“Blue. Cheese. Burgers.”

Regarding the former fast-food chain Stark’s, a person may need antacids if they recall eating there, and possibly a muscle relaxant to ease the face muscles locked in a devilish smirk. Anyone in the Western culture of planet Earth might think a hamburger could sell itself. It is a seemingly indivisible form American culture as, well, French fries. However, there are so many “restaurants” attempting to sell so many patties of flattened dead cow that any food hawking enterprise needs a twist in order to have just a hope of being competitive. It needs to be more than cheap prices or a special sauce. The Stark’s strategy had people thinking the chain had left out the letters “e” and “r” between the “k” and the “s”. Stark’s tried to sell burgers with cheesecake. All natural, or at least all exposed cheesecake. That chain used the traditional ingredient for financial success from across the ages: Sex. Or the rather its suggestion in the form of nudity. Specifically, young female nudity. And unlimited ketchup.

Morals aside, beef sold by young women in the buff has a certain promise of success. In reality the employees did have some items to constitute a uniform. Those being clear plastic heals, an apron, and for sanitary reasons, the traditional rectangular paper cap. Although the “chef’s” had a tad more for protection from sprits of hot, flying fat. Although if such an event occurred, the sudden motions of the cooks… Well, Stark’s had another unique feature from other fast-food joints. Customers had a full view of the kitchens. “We have nothing to hide at Stark’s!” was posted on a sign uttered in an exclamation balloon by the winking fox mascot. The signs were posted above the clear doors where the orders of future heartburn were made. (They are now a highly desired piece of memorabilia to collectors.) Even with good ventilation, obscuring condensation became an issue. Patrons, mostly male, would volunteer the clean the doors or prop them open to the dismay of management. But obviously the customers wanted to see the preparation of hamburgers, shakes, fries, and of course, banana splits. Loitering at the counter would have been too obvious.

The motto on the napkins read: “It’s always fresh and hot at Stark’s!” As expected, media attention drew heat to the operation. A Stark’s restaurant could not open anywhere in any city. Local laws needed to permit the sale of food at “adult” entertainment venues. The greatest opposition to the chain was not from religious, sexist, vegetarian or any number of possible moral objectors. The main resistance came from other employers of the scantily clad. Strip clubs that served food to stuff patrons before they prepared to stuff dollar bills elsewhere, did not want to see competition that had the resources of a national chain. For once the owners of places like Bob’s Boob Hut had something in common with the members of the National Union of Traditional Salvation. Not that they ever shared a burger and fries in celebration. Other national burger joints didn’t take the bait (most likely covered in melted cheese) to join in on accusations of wholesome American fare being denigrated by debauched sales tactics. To the charges of sin for sales, chain owner Milton Forsboyner replied: “I never claimed to be original.” The corpulent Mr. Forsboyner was, thankfully, always fully clothed when on camera.

The end of the Stark’s chain didn’t come from law suits, the occasional picket protest, organized industry resistance—the adult entertainment industry, not fast food—or threats of legislation. It came from a reason that plagues most businesses: unforeseen expenses. Specifically, the cost of Plexiglas. Many Stark’s sites became too popular, or at least the patrons become too familiar with restaurant staff. And thus the kitchen doors were locked from the inside and the ordering counters were enclosed in clear, glass-like shields. And the condensation issues thus increased. In time the novelty was over. The reality of such interesting business operations set in. Burger sales dropped. Soon coverings came to most Stark’s. Plywood covered the opaque windows of the empty stores. Other restaurants chains would start up after Stark’s with similar business models. That is, using young female models to sell cheap, fried food. One benefit from Stark’s existence was all the employee college scholarships honored by Mr. Forsboyner. He claimed, perhaps ironically, to be a person who wanted to fully support his employees and have his legacy be an uplifting one.

BSL