I'm fully aware that the following statements may inflame some and infuriate others as I am about to attack a well-known and beloved Seattle carnivore landmark. Nevertheless...
Dear Red Mill Burgers:
I know everyone thinks you're the local burger-patty heroes, a Mecca for all those avowed meat lovers who want to support the little guy. I know your name evokes involuntary and Homer Simpson-esque groans of pleasure amongst the aforementioned "in-the-know-ers". I'm not faulting your small-business pluck (which I appreciate in any burger joint that doesn't occur nationally), nor do I think your food is especially bad, but this leads to my first point:
1) Your burgers are good, but not that good. Let's be honest, the secret is in the sauce, and yours is a B+ on its best day. Fresh greens and veggies, sure. Great. But really, I could make better burgers on my grill. If I had a grill, I mean. I know, I know, the point of a restaurant is that you don't have to make the food YOURSELF. Still, don't let all those "Seattle's Best Burger" awards go to your head.
2) What is it about you and large to-go orders? Anything over 4 servings in one order and you fall apart. Missing fry orders, the wrong burger, drinks we didn't ask for - seriously, you suck at it. Which brings me to...
3) High-school counter help. Nothing against teenagers, but it might be a good idea to have your quality-control person actually be old enough to vote. While we're on the subject, is it a coincidence that 95% of your counter staff is made up of cute high-school girls?
Order up for Mr. Nabokov! Is there a Vladimir Nabokov here?
What is up with that?
Never mind, I'm sure I don't want to head down that rabbit-hole. Still, kinda creepy...
4) Okay, no one in the service industry likes to deal with a customer on a cell phone. Your No Cell Phones policy is fine and should stay, but you have to know that you are the exception in this respect. The days of mounting a grassroots rebellion against cell phone users in your place of business are over. I don't like it any more than you do, but we all use cell phones and we're not about to take scoldings about it from a burger joint. Stop threatening people like you have a self-righteous leg to stand on. In exchange, I'll make sure to leave my cell phone off when I'm in line at Red Mill. All you had to do was ask nicely.
5) Finally, start taking debit cards. It's quicker and more convenient for most everyone. "Cash or checks only" is no longer cute, nor is it "sticking it to the corporate world" (see also, #4 above). Does anyone born after 1970 even use checks anymore? I mean for purposes other than mailing your gas bill payments? You're popular and busy enough to afford the service fees. Get over yourselves and let your customers use plastic like the rest of the world does.
6) Finally, finally - The Rolling Stones stopped releasing good music on August 24, 1981*. Please please please stop forcing us to listen to "A Bigger Bang" every time we come in. I could make better music in my own studio. If I had a studio, I mean. At least play some of the deeper cuts off of "Let It Bleed" or "Exile on Main Street". But really - enough with the Grey Pony Tail-worship. No one cares.
In conclusion, Ida and I often bask in the guilty pleasure of your greasy goodness. You make great shakes, pretty good fries and onion rings worthy of an engagement proposal (Simpsons reference #2, for those of you playing at home). You could be so much better if you'd just get out of your own way in some respects. Otherwise, you might as well be a less-efficient version of TGI Friday's. Just sayin'.
PS How about a Grilled Beet Burger? I just thought if it! Delicious!
*Estimated date, album quality debatable. Though "Waiting on a Friend" is the real gem.