Lum’s Restaurant – Are There Any left in Michigan?
Lum's began as a Florida hot dog stand (the franks were steamed in beer) and was bought out by Cliff & Stu Perlman in 1956 for $10,000. At the height of its fame, Lum's had 450 locations in the U.S.
I just happen to be one of those guys who enjoyed going to Lum's restaurant. It had a pleasant atmosphere and good food...typical, but good. There must have been a handful throughout Michigan, and I remember them well.
Their claim-to-fame was hotdogs steamed in beer, but the main reason I went was for the Ollieburger, named after the guy who created it, Ollie Gleichenhaus. Ollie had no part in the creation of Lum's, so why should he have a burger named after him?
Ollie Gleichenhaus ran a small burger joint in Florida and was discovered by attorney John Brown, Jr..
Brown had recently purchased the Lum's hotdog chain – which hadn't been doing too well – and sent some flunkies out to search the country for the best hamburger. Eventually, they came across Ollie's burger shack in Florida. After tasting one of Ollie's special burgers, they hauled Ollie back to hook up with Brown. Brown then came up with the brilliant idea of making Ollie the burger version of KFC's Colonel Sanders.
Ollie was not the kindly old southern gentleman Colonel Sanders was – he would insult the customers, rag on the employees, and make fun of anyone who asked for ketchup, mustard, or other condiments. Why? Because he felt his special blend of 32 spices and a special sauce was all his burger needed.
After promising Ollie he would be “bigger than Colonel Sanders”, Ollie finally agreed, happy to have his face splashed across t-shirts, ads and menus, and “his name in lights”.
As for his fame, he never reached the heights of the Colonel, but I really liked the burgers. Each side of the burger patty was smeared in the special sauce and then grilled. That was the quickie way - Ollie's original burgers were marinated overnight.
I saw the 'special sauce' recipe that included lemon juice, vinegar, seasoning salt, garlic, A/1 Sauce, and a handful of others. But where's the sage? My tastebuds told me that flavor I was experiencing was sage...but it's nowhere in the recipe...unless they're holding it back as their “secret ingredient”. No way it ain't in there...that had to be sage I was tasting.
Anyway, without going through all the legal BS, Brown sold the business in 1978...and that company went bankrupt in 1982. The original Lum's restaurant closed for good in 1983. So to answer the original question, no...there are no more Lum's left in Michigan. Where was the Lum's closest to you?
Lum's even makes a cameo appearance in Martin Scorsese's 2019 film The Irishman. Wanna see it? The video clip comes up after the photo gallery.
LUM'S PHOTO GALLERY
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