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Burger Joint

Located within the lobby of Parker New York (formerly known as Le Parker Meridien) in a windowless room about the size of a New York City studio apartment, burger joint is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall, but only in the most positive sense. From outside burger joint, the only indication of its existence is a small neon burger sign - and, of course, the crowds of people waiting their turn for what has been voted "best burger in New York. " Inside, the walls are wood-paneled with iconic movie posters hanging on them. A back white brick wall has the signatures of celebrities who have eaten at the restaurant - everyone from hip hop artist Talib Kweli to Heidi Klum. The other walls - and even some of the tabletops - are also covered in writing, though these signatures are less recognizable. It is not actually encouraged to write on the walls; rather it was regular customers who noticed the celebrities' signatures and decided to carry on the tradition themselves. The menu is no-frills and written on a chalkboard: burgers, fries, sodas, milkshakes, Sam Adams, a brownie and that's about it. Having opened in 2002, burger joint has gained a "cult following" due to its unlikely location. According to the hotel's marketing person, Marisa, who kindly gave us a tour, she explained that people enjoy the juxtaposition of Le Parker's sleek elegance and burger joint's underground feel. Though its customer base was once mostly locals in the know, today the restaurant is overwhelmingly populated by tourists, including plenty of international visitors. Burgers are part of the American experience, and a burger joint burger has evidently become part of the New York City experience. When I commented to Marisa that I could not believe how long the line was at 3: 30 in the afternoon, she took one glance at the hectic scene before immediately pronouncing, "This is quiet for us. " Indeed, the employees often find themselves churning out up to "1000 burgers per day. "After so many years with only the one location, burger joint has recently begun to expand, opening a (much larger) restaurant on 8th Street along with outposts in far-flung locales like Seoul and Dubai. Marisa told us that there are plans to expand further, but the original location will always have a special place in the city's heart - all 600 square feet of it.

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