COBWEB CORNERS: A burger to remember

By Mel McFarland

       I mentioned some time ago that I like to eat at Uncle Sam's over in Manitou. That building has been used for food service for more than 60 years. Michaelis, which was there in the 1950s, had a Burger in a Basket theme. You'd get a big burger, like you see at Red Top, in a basket with fries, which was a carry over from the restaurant's earlier Chicken in a Basket where you got several pieces of chicken and fries.
       Michaelis started in Manitou and by the '60s it had expanded to four other places. One was on West Colorado Avenue, which is now the site of a veterinary clinic. Others were on South Nevada, North Nevada and off East Platte. Only the one on North Nevada is still recognizable. It is a used car lot now, but you can still make out the drive-through. Michaelis lost out to McDonalds, like many others. I remember the first McDonalds on South 8th street. Many of us teenagers would go buy a burger, fries and a drink for a buck! The burgers were not as good as Michaelis', but they were quick and cheap.
       One memorable place my dad liked was Maid-Rite. Its corporate offices are in Iowa, but franchises opened here twice! In the early '50s, there was a place just off Colorado Avenue on Spruce Street. Today the building is next to 1-25. where Spruce dead-ends, but there was no highway there then. Maid-Rite cooks loose hamburger, steamed not fried. It came originally in a hard toasted shell made from slices of bread, but later they went to a bun. It was fun to take a bite of the shell then squirt in catsup or mustard. That place died out about 1957, but in the 1980s another one opened on Fillmore, and later moved downtown on Colorado Avenue before it closed.
       Other popular burger spots were Barthel's, Colts, White Spot, Cy's, and Jay's, which catered to the businessmen and college kids. Another one called the Big 15 served lots of soldiers from Camp Carson. Then there was Garth's on South Nevada, which sold burgers, then became the first Colonel Sanders franchise in Colorado. Before Garth's there was Imboden's, but that is getting into chicken history. Many who went to Colorado College or Colorado Springs (later Palmer) High School remember that Nevada between Garth's and Jay's was where the hot rods cruised from the 1950s up into the early 1970s, with an occasional side trip to McDonalds. Once it established itself, McDonalds opened up in more visible spots and many of the older burger places became memories.