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17 May 2013

A Fricking Shame: A Toast to One of the Valley’s Best Burger Joints—Which Closes This Weekend

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Many folks think this is one of the valley's best burgers. Many folks think this is one of the valley's best burgers. CVI Crapcam

When I saw the announcement come across my Facebook feed that FrickleBurgers in Cathedral City is closing, my response was their signature phrase: “What the Frick?”

For those hoping to indulge for the first or last time, you have until 5 p.m., Sunday, May 19.

FrickleBurgers, known for its hamburgers, bratwursts and hot dogs, became a favorite among locals who have eaten there since its opening in October 2011. (The Cathedral City spot followed a short-lived location at the Westfield Palm Desert mall.) According to the restaurant’s website, the term “FrickleBurger” was a term given by owner Michael Zoll’s mother to a European burger patty known as a “frickadellen.”

FrickleBurgers serves naturally raised and hormone-free beef and chicken, locally grown produce, locally baked buns, and brats of the highest quality from Wisconsin.

When customers walk into the restaurant at lunch time, there’s a good chance they’ll see Zoll behind the counter. During each of my visits there, he was always friendly and knew how to take care of his customers. Whether you needed condiments or a beverage refill, he was on top of it.

During my first stop, Zoll warned me after I ordered my burger and “Frick Fries” that the portion was large, and that some customers have a hard time finishing all of it.

When I bit into the burger, the flavor and the combination of all the toppings was outstanding—and Zoll wasn’t kidding about the warning on the large portion size, especially when fries are in the picture.

After reading the news about the closing on Tuesday, I decided to cancel my dinner plans and treat myself to one last meal at FrickleBurgers. Just like at all of my other visits, I wasn’t let down. It made me sad; this is a restaurant that shouldn’t be closing, given the high quality of the food, the excellent customer service and the value.

The closing of FrickleBurgers illustrates how hard it can be to run a business; it did not make it despite local “Best Of” honors and great ratings on customer-review sites like Yelp. The notice that posted on the Facebook page and on the restaurant door cites the reason for closing as “a simple fact of working capital and lack thereof.” It seemed like FrickleBurgers was doing all of the right things—and still came up short.

Even though they are closing this Sunday, there is a glimmer of hope: Zoll said in the notice that he is looking for investors to possibly reopen in another location.

I wish Michael Zoll the best of luck—and I that he will return stronger than before. 

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