Sandy's Tavern was crowned Twin Cities' Best Burger for 2010 by City's Best, an online guide for the "best" in various major cities, in mid-December. Although Sandy's won second place in last year's contest, this is the first year since 2005 the bar and eatery, already well known to many Richfield residents, received the honor.
"We don't skimp on anything and we have the best staff around. We use real products–the cheese, the mayonnaise; we buy bakery fresh buns," he said. "When you're small like us you can't afford to cut corners."
Known for its olive burger, Sandy's serves a variety of acclaimed burgers, including a recent addition to the menu, Sandy's Sizzler. Regardless of its staff's expertise behind the grill, owner Eric Ericson was quick to give credit for the award to Sandy's customers.
"The fans do it, the people do it. If the people like your burgers they vote for you," Ericson said. "And thankfully we had a lot of people who liked us this year."
Kevin Parks, who has worked as a bartender and cook at the restaurant for 18 years, joined Ericson in praising the customers.
"[We have the] best customers in the world. It's all about them," he said. "They're the ones who vote for us, they're the ones who talk about us."
When asked what impact, if any, Parks thought being named best burger award had on business he said, "When we first came in to this competition a few years ago, I honestly didn't think it mattered, but especially this year I think it has."
Parks said the Internet is getting the bar noticed and contests such as the City's Best competition is helping business.
Although the owners and employees at Sandy's praised its regular customers for boosting Sandy's to a victory in this year's City's Best competition, the burgers are deserving of their reputation. Ericson attributed their popularity largely to one thing: Buying the best quality products money can buy.
Sandy's has been making its burgers with Swanson Meats ground beef since Ericson and his wife Deb bought the bar in 1980 and installed the grill that makes prize-winning burgers today.
In a competition where customers are allowed to vote once per day for their favorite Twin Cities establishment, enthusiasm for an establishment matters. In addition to its mouth-watering burgers, Sandy's creates an atmosphere that keeps diners coming back again and again, Ericson said.
"A big part of our success is the consistency of our staff; how nice they are," Ericson said. "We've always wanted to stay friendly. Keep it small town, try to learn people's names ... It's important to say hello when customers come through the door."
The City's Best competition was an online contest with a variety of categories for people to vote on.