Yesterday, Todd and I went for lunch. On his recommendation, we went to Vera’s Burger Shack on Denman, and I enjoyed a very tasty turkey burger called ‘The Pilgrim’. There are four locations around Vancouver. I was disappointed, however, to read on Vera’s website about the origin of the franchises:
In 1977, the concession at Dundarave Pier opened in West Vancouver. Over the next 22 years under the watchful eyes of Vera and Frank, it gained a reputation for two things; quality and quantity. Actually three if you count the hour long wait for one of Vera’s fresh burgers. With the help of her family, they made sure that their standards were always maintained.
I grew up in West Van, and my family frequented this fairly anonymous shack on the beach. Its burgers were excellent, and the lines were long. At the tender age of 17, I went off to university to start a creative writing program. My first short story was about falling in love with the lovely Eastern European girl who worked at the shack. It was like Joyce’s Araby meets The Wonder Years, except very, very bad. I still have it, and though it shames me, here’s a sample paragraph:
A girl stepped into view from behind a dividing wall. She was tall and slim, with a mane of thick brown hair tied back from her face. Her skin was fair, almost to the point of transparency. I didn’t realize I’d been staring until her gaze met my own. I quickly looked away, finding new interest in the condiments lining the counter.
I’m no Updike today, but how the heck did I pass first year creative writing? That’s just awful.
Vera has retired, and now they’re busy franchising her shack and my fantasy across the Lower Mainland. To add insult to injury, I was served by a pimply, desultory teenage boy at the Vera’s on Denman.