Brooklyn Daily excerpt -
National burger chain will take on local eateries
Checkers — the Florida-based company that serves Big Buford and Baconzilla burgers, as well as three varieties of hot dogs — says it will open an eatery on Surf Avenue in a bid to wrestle business from the growing number of restaurants coming to Coney Island as well as Nathan’s Famous, which opened on the Boardwalk in 1916 and will be expanding on the historic walkway this year.
But mom-and-pop restaurateurs say they plan to make chop meat out of the corporate patty purveyor.
“I’ll put my hamburger up against anybody,” said Jimmy Kokotas, the owner of the legendary Prospect Heights diner Tom’s Restaurant, who’s opening a Boardwalk outpost that will serve up $5 flame-broiled burgers made from fresh ground beef.
Nathan’s Famous fans shrugged off news that Checkers will be coming to the amusement district as well.
“Checkers may be on Nathan’s turf but their hot dogs won’t be able to compete with Nathan’s,” said George Shea, who runs the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest each year. “The Nathan’s hot dog is a touchstone to what it is to be an American and certainly a Brooklynite.”
Many predict that Coney’s faithful won’t cozy up Checkers, which is known for its bright red logo and sells grilled burgers made from frozen beef patties that cost between $1 and $5.
“It’s hard to compete with someone who uses frozen food,” said Zito’s Sandwich Shoppe co-owner Marcello Bucca, who’s bringing a gourmet hoagie hub to a former carny game booth on Jones Walk near Bowery Street. “I think people will see that and come to us instead.”
But the burger chain’s new location at the foot of the Stillwell Avenue subway station — which is a stone’s throw from the beach, Nathan’s, Luna Park, and the Scream Zone — could make it a popular destination with visitors to the historic amusement district.
Checkers spokeswoman Jennifer Durham said the empty storefront it scooped up will make for an ideal fast-food restaurant.