The poor kid’s eyes were bigger than his stomach when he went off menu for his meal.
Charles Hewitt, owner of Chuck’s Place Sports Cafe, knew it, too.
When the competition burger emerged from chef Rudy Menchaca’s kitchen – all 3.5 pounds of it – Hewitt knew the 8-year-old was in over his head.
Stacked in front of him was Manteca’s newest food challenge, an intimidating tower of devour that has yet to meet its champion.
The Chuck’s Challenge burger is built with four half-pound ground beef patties, five hamburger buns, seven onion rings and topped with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. But that’s only half of it. Along with eating the burger, the contestant must also finish one pound of fries.
In fact, the burger is so big there is no space for it on the everyday menu. A burger of that size, Hewitt declared, needs its own space.
Its own wall.
“We’re having a poster made. It won’t be available on the menu. We’ll frame it and hang it on the wall,” said Hewitt, who moved the bar from its original location on Oak Street in December. Chuck’s Place now occupies 3,000-plus square feet on Historical Plaza Way across from Home Depot.
The challenge costs $20, which buys you 20 minutes on the game clock, and it’s already attracted attention from Sacramento to San Jose.
Last week, Chuck’s Place was featured on Good Day Sacramento. That morning, TV personality Alan Sanchez put his stomach up against that of Chuck’s Place bartender Ken Douglas, a professional eater who has competed alongside hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut.
Neither finished the challenge.
On Sunday, Hewitt watched as an 8-year-old got lost in the burger’s shadows. “He got ‘mandled’ pretty good. I told him, ‘I’ll give you a half-hour,’ “ Hewitt said. “It’s just too much hamburger for a boy.”
Later, a San Jose man successfully put away the burger but not the fries.
Each went home with a souvenir T-shirt.
Hewitt had two screens printed to mark the arrival of what he believed to be the Manteca’s first competition burger since Wally’s left town.
To the winner, if there ever is one: “I mandled the Chuck’s Challenge.” To the defeated and doubled-over: “I got mandled by the Chuck’s Challenge.”
• • •
Manteca’s Music Man
Manteca doesn’t want to see the music die. Not from Darryl Bain’s accordion, anyway.
Nearly two weeks after The Bulletin published a story about the former Salvation Army music director and his broken accordion, letters and phone calls continue to pour in.
Many have inquired about the accordion, which Bain says was picked up by the original owners and taken in for repairs with the promise they’d return it.
Some have even offered to help Bain with general living expenses. The 60-year-old and his girlfriend, Sharie Romero, have fallen on hard times. The two are $1,200 behind on the rent for their duplex near Southside Park. Two windows on Bain’s van have been broken. And neither one has a regular job.
The consensus among the callers and writers is clear: Bain’s music is part of the Family City’s fabric.
He has serenaded Manteca’s holiday shoppers for years, even playing his accordion in a driving rain last winter.
“A Manteca without Darryl giving is a Manteca that I do not want to envision,” wrote David Canning, a former resident. “When his mother passed, the two wept with him. This is an injury that can be fixed with a small amount of effort and I, personally, would appreciate having the opportunity to help.”
If you’d like to help Bain and Romero, contact them at (209) 823-8514 after 4:30 p.m.
• • •
Teeing off on T-shirt line
Time for Brock Elliott’s “Back to School” committee to go back to the drawing board.
Or perhaps, it’s time to stop selling and making T-shirts all in one night.
Last Thursday’s “Back to School” night was marred by a slow-moving T-shirt line that prevented parents from 1.) visiting other tables and booths, 2.) meeting staff and administration, and 3.) visiting their child’s classroom for an orientation with their instructor.
Some waited more than an hour in line as the vendor sold and screened T-shirts and sweaters. It was too much for two men to handle.
It wasn’t much of an issue for a child with two parents present. Many just had a spouse wait out the line, while the other sat in on the teacher’s presentation.
However, if you happened to be by yourself or have multiple children, you were likely faced with a dilemma. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Dude, it’s just a T-shirt. Step out of line and see the teacher. “
And you’re right, it’s just a T-shirt ... a T-shirt Brock Elliott hopes its students will wear with pride regularly.
If the school is going to sell T-shirts – and promote that kind of school spirit – they should find a way to expedite the process; a way to eliminate the dilemma.
The current operation is producing more teed-off adults than youth T-shirts.
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