By Scott Koperski, Beatrice Daily Sun Reporter
DORCHESTER, Neb. – What started as a limited-time item is turning into a major attraction for a Dorchester restaurant.
Joe’s Place, owned by Robert and Sherri Parks, began selling pork burgers Monday, Oct. 11, to correspond with October being National Pork Month, and are rapidly running out of the special item.
“It’s been very popular so far for only having it a few days,” Parks said. “It corresponds well with harvest, so we’ve had a lot of farmers come in for to-go orders to take out in the fields with them.”
Parks said that on Thursday, by 1 p.m., he’d already sold 65 pork burgers compared to around 15 beef burgers that day.
The burgers have drawn such a positive response that a group from the Nebraska Pork Producers Association made their way to Joe’s Place to try the burgers.
Shane Meyer, NPPA vice president, said that Joe’s Place is going through the pork burgers much faster than he expected.
“(Parks) wanted them on the menu, but we weren’t sure how many he’d go through,” Meyer said. “He got two pigs worth which was around 240 patties and they’re going pretty fast.”
Parks expected to sell them all.
While pork burgers are proving to be a hot-ticket item for the small-town restaurant, they’re not as easy to come across as regular hamburgers.
Meyer, who also works for Burkey Farms, the company which supplied Parks with the burgers, said that it can take as long as three weeks to get the pork burgers processed by a meat locker.
While pork burgers are currently listed as the number two special, Parks hopes to make the burgers a full menu item.
“We haven’t worked out a deal yet for how many we’ll get or for how much, but I’d like to see them be added as a regular menu item,” Parks said. “The customers here have really responded to them.”
When customers order the number two special, a Joe’s Place employee, dressed in an “I dig the pig” T-shirt, delivers two of the pork burgers with a heaping side of fries. The intimidated eater can opt for a half special consisting of one pork burger and fries.
While pork burgers are often considered a healthier meat than beef because they’re leaner, Meyer said that it also makes them more difficult to cook.
“It’s a leaner burger so you have to watch them pretty closely or else they might burn,” Meyer said. “It’s an easier meat to dry out if not cooked properly.”
While some customers take their pork burger with traditional hamburger toppings, many opt for a simpler solution, barbecue sauce.
Barbecue sauce is the only topping as Parks adds no other seasoning while cooking.
While the original taste of the pork patty is the main selling point, Meyer said that some customers appreciate that the meat is raised and processed locally.
“More and more people are pushing to know where their food is from,” Meyer said. “A lot of people never know where a specific item came from. It might have been from a local farm or it might not. With these pork burgers, you know they came from just seven miles away.”
Whether the burgers work out as a regular item or not, Parks said that it’s been a real treat to offer them to his customers this week.“They’ve gotten such a great response from people that I really hope we can work something out to keep selling them,” Parks said. “They definitely have a unique taste that people love.”