burgers

Sofa King Juicy Burger takes its name seriously

Dec. 4, 2012 at 7:30 AM ET

Sofa King Juicy Burger /
What's in a name? If you never heard this middle-school joke that's been going around for decades, try saying "Sofa King Juicy" three times fast.

Sofa King Juicy Burger sparked a flame-broiled controversy in Chattanooga, Tenn., after a local columnist fretted that he wanted to "shield" his kids from the sign so he wouldn't have to explain the yet-to-be-unveiled burger joint's name. (If you never heard this middle-school joke that's been going around for decades, try saying "Sofa King Juicy" three times fast.)

Business partners Greg Beairsto and Jeff Brakebill told TODAY that one of the things that surprised them after their story spread online was the number of people who still don't get the name. Although they're not surprised that the name has drawn some local ire in the town of 170,136. "We are in the buckle of the Bible Belt," Beairsto said. "It's a red state."

The name -- which Beairsto said the pair figured out "by rolling around the floor laughing. We never considered another name" -- is a double entendre. There's the joke, but the duo spent six months traveling from Manhattan to Memphis chowing down on burgers to figure out their perfect patty recipe, and the result, they assured us, are burgers that really are exceptionally juicy.

There will also be an actual sofa in the 1,500-square-foot facility at the corner of Dayton Boulevard and Signal Mountain Boulevard in Chattanooga, the color of "nasty '50's Naugahyde." So when you sit on it, you really will feel like a member of royalty. The $1 Pabst Blue Ribbons and other dollar canned beers will also help in that department. 

"It's just who we are," said Beairsto. "We love food, we love the food experience. I'm a 22-year-old trapped in a 50-year-old's body."

While the name may be silly, the burgers are for real. The pair will use only grass-fed locally sourced beef, ground daily 20 minutes up the road. Grass-fed tastes so much better than traditional grain-fed, said Beairsto, because, "it's like when you eat your mom's chocolate cake versus a cake from Wal-Mart."

Brakebill added that the result is a patty that's "less fatty" with better beef taste. "Big hydroponically grown lettuce" will go on the burgers, he said, along with fresh local tomatoes and an "awesome" bun.

The original plan was to grind the meat on-site. Instead, they're putting in a "milkshake laboratory," visible to guests where "milkshake scientists" sporting labcoats and goggles will blend in liquid nitrogen to freeze the in-house ice cream mix into a frosty delight.

"It's unreal," said Brakebill.

"Kids are gonna go bananas," said Beairsto.

That is, if their ears and eyes haven't already been corrupted by the foul name, right? 

Beairsto scoffs. "I'll give you a million dollars if you can find me a 10-year-old that gets the name without adult intervention," he said. "It boils down to parenting."

To parents who want to control everything their kids see, he says, "Godspeed."

"There's no rule book," said Beairsto. "You gotta fill their toolbox with the right tools."

Sometimes those toolboxes are a little lighter than others.

"And some of them have rusty old tools from the '20s that their grandparents gave them," said Beairsto.

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