I found myself near Newark, Delaware last week and stopped for a local burger favorite Jake's. Their Newark location is the original (I believe) in a chain that now has over 10 locations from Florida to Massachusetts. And they are growing. If you go to the website take a look at the original as compared to the recently-opened East Windsor, CT. location. Quite a difference, but I'm happy to see that Jake's is not one to erase their past. The Newark, DE location, geographically and aesthetically, is down-n-dirty and I like that.
The burger menu is very similar to another mid-east coast phenomenon and from what I understand both source the same fresh-ground beef. The burgers are cooked on a flattop using the smash method and the grill cook employs a smashing device almost identical to The ones used at Five Guys. The major difference though is that where the channeled smasher at Five Guys is clearly mass produced to accommodate their rapidly expanding empire, the smasher at Jake's is a crude, homemade device. It's basically a bacon weight that has 4 chunks of metal welded to its sides in order to smash the patty to a consistent thickness. This kind of home-shop ingenuity is the backbone of the burger business in America. I can't even tell you how many grill cooks I've met across the country that use non-traditional spatulas and other cooking apparatus they have fashioned themselves to create the best burgers in the world. It was great to see this a Jake's. I might add that this device was way sturdier than those used at Five Guys - theirs are made from aluminum and tend to bend after much smashing. The result is a channel smasher that smashes the burger too thin as the smasher bends. At Jake's I could actually hear the 'CLANK' of the smasher hitting the griddle, hard.
The burger options are few but Jake's goes one further than Five Guys to offer the Big Jake which is a burger with three 3.3 oz. patties. As tempted as I was I opted for the classic double and was totally satisfied. Another menu item that sets Jake's apart from it's closest competitor is their awesome selection of hand-dipped thick shakes and there are many flavors to choose from, including a 'Milkshake of the Month'. This month's flavor is Pumpkin Pie. Yum.
Below is some of my daughter's work, thanks to a Jake's coloring page...