I’ve lived my entire life in Michigan. When my grandparents moved from Rochester Hills to West Branch our occasional trips to see them went from being around a half hour drive to almost 2 hours. When my Aunts and Uncles moved to Grayling that was another half-hour tacked on. Needless to say, many a Friday night/Saturday morning was spent sitting in the back of the car/van staring at the scenery as it went by and making note of familiar landmarks as a way to judge how much longer we had to go. The most common landmarks were, of course, billboards. Some of which never changed much such as the couple we’d pass advertising Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland and the ones for Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn restaurants in Frankenmuth.
Inevitably one of the billboards we’d pass, usually around Flint, was for a Halo Burger restaurant. I can remember seeing billboards for it on the way up as well as back down again and in my 47 years I’d never been there. Today on the way back from my mother’s house we saw a sign for one just off the highway and I figured it was about time. So we dropped in for lunch and… it wasn’t bad at all. Prices were reasonable and in addition to the usual arrangement of hamburgers you’d expect at a burger joint, they also had a couple of unique options like their olive burger. A burger that — in addition to mayo, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, and tomatoes — has olives on it, natch. Apparently they’ve been around since 1923, which explains why I’ve seen billboards for them my entire life. Another restaurant that I can remember seeing billboards for on those trips, but have never eaten at, is Fuddruckers. Though they’re a relative newcomer having only been around since 1980 when I was 13. Much like Halo Burger, every time I see a Fuddruckers billboard I wonder what it would be like to try it out.
It’s weird to be aware of something like a restaurant for such a long time without actually ever visiting it. I think that’s why the Sonic commercials bothered me so much when they started showing up in Michigan well before any actual Sonic restaurants. Or at least any I was aware of. Eating at Halo Burger was oddly nostalgic for being the first time I’d ever been there because I’ve known about the place for so long. I can’t say it was such an excellent dining experience that I’d seek one out again, but if I happen to be passing by the one we stopped at and I was hungry then I wouldn’t pass it by.
Does anyone else have things like that? Things that have been around forever in your state that you’ve never been to, but you think about every time you pass a billboard for it? Or this just something weird about me?