An oldie, but a goodie. Established over 128 years ago, and claiming to have served the first hamburger in the US. Sadly we can’t verify this, as like most other competing claims, the truth is lost in the mists of time, but given its age, Louis Lunch was certainly amongst the first.
Louis Lassen, born in Denmark as Ludvig Lassen in 1865 married Sophia Kurtz, a native of the US. Lassen was a Blacksmith and some time preacher, who ended up selling food from a street cart. Over time he began to add lunch items to his cart. Well, we say cart, but wagon was probably a better description.
Legend has it that one day in 1900, a local businessman dashed into the lunch wagon, exclaiming “Loui, I’m in a rush, stick a meatpuck between two planks and step on it.” Lassen placed a burger puck between two slices of bread and sent the man on his way. Allegedly the first burger was born
In 1917 Lassen took over a building that had been a tannery and remained there until 1975, being forced to make way for development and moving two blocks to 263 Crown Street in New Haven.
The business is today owned by the fourth generation of the family.
Today the menu consists of ‘The Burger’ which is made from a blend of five cuts of steak then broiled vertically. Accompanied by potato salad, chips and homemade pie. They also use a cheese spread rather than slices.
The patties are broiled on a cast iron vertical gas broiler made in 1898 by the Bridge and Beach Co. and they use a 1929 Savory Radiant Gas Toaster.
Louis’ Lunch ‘It’s My Way Or No Way’
Louis Lunch is famous (Infamous perhaps) for its dislike of ketchup,. In fact asking for ketchup on your burger results in you being ejected from the premises. A no ketchup sign hangs prominently in the restaurant, along with a caption popping up to read “Yale students who try to sneak in ketchup are asked to leave”. The venue is all about the burger, and allows nothing to upstage or detract from it, so no fancy buns or condiments, you get onions, tomato and a squirt of cheese.