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Burger time: Food festival brings booming business to Moncton restaurant industry

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It's been a very busy week at Cheers Beverage Room in Moncton.

Hundreds of patties have been slapped on the grill and served up for the fifth annual Moncton Burger Festival.

With close to 50 restaurants participating this year and 47 different burgers available, the beef bonanza is bigger than ever.

"It's something amazing," said Jennifer Somers, co-owner of Cheers. "It's something spectacular where the whole community comes together and they just thrive on burgers for 17 days. It's so awesome. It brings new people in, it brings regulars in, they're excited for the new burgers that people are putting out."

Festival organizer and Tide & Boar owner Chad Steeves started it all as way for eateries in town to make extra money during the slowest time of the year for the industry.

His inspiration came from seeing other cities in the Maritimes holding similar festivals.

The secret to the festival's success is a great meal, a good time with friends, and something pretty simple.

"You know, it's the old school advertising," said Steeves. "You open up that burger map and you just sit there and you go 'whoa!' You see all these burgers all in one spot. People get really excited. Plus, burgers are one of the most popular foods in North America."

But it's not just a fun time for foodies. It also helps keep staff members busy and doors open during a bleak time of year.

Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton CEO John Wishart said it brings people out in the middle of winter.

"We heard of one restaurant that sold 200 burgers in the first day of the festival. So 200 burgers times 20 bucks a burger, that's $4,000 in the till in a single day. That's a huge difference," said Wishart.

Steeves said the festival even saved businesses during the pandemic when restaurants weren't allowed to have patrons inside, but could still do take-out.

"Those three weeks of the festival during the pandemic it was like, we weren't closed down, it was all to-go. It was a whole new sector to us. We were packed and slammed and giving people hours paying bills we weren't sure we were going to be able to pay," said Steeves.

Lunchtime customers at Cheers weighed in on what makes a good burger.

"The cheese, the bun, if it's all quality it's good," said Lawren Campbell. "But if you're gonna start to combine a bunch of stuff it's got to be the right blend of those flavours. A little bit of sweet with that savory."

Kenny McKeigan thinks it's the juiciness of the burger.

"The quality of the meat with the juice in the burger. That's what makes a good quality burger," said McKeigan.

Adam Craig said he prefers to keep it simple.

"Meat, cheese and a bun and if they're good enough it doesn't need anything else," said Craig.

Somers said it all starts with a good patty.

"You've got to have good meat. Good meat, good sauce, good bun and a little bit of a crunch," said Somers.

The Moncton Burger Festival runs until Jan. 28.

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