Island Issues

Don’t Worry About The Women & Children, Hide The Burgers! The Fat Men From Space Are Headed Back To Nassau County

Don’t Worry About The Women & Children, Hide The Burgers! The Fat Men From Space Are Headed Back To Nassau County

Forget developers, tourists, illegal immigrants, and refugees fleeing New York, California and other states economically decimated by Democrats. Nassau County is bracing once again for an invasion of the ravenous Fat Men from space.

The last time the Fat Men attacked locally was six years ago, July 2018. The results of that assault can be read at If you go there look at those prices and compare them to to today’s, then remember that when you vote in November.

Covid ended the attacks after the last incursion, combined with indifference and laziness on my part, as well as the absence of a second Fat Man. That’s been remedied. Covid is over, and the ravenous Fat Men are on the way back. And I have my second wind.

The 2018 burger champs.

The last burger battle in 2018 ended in a controversial tie between Amelia Island’s iconic T-Rays and the now shuttered Joe’s 2nd Street Bisto. Rather than incurring confusing culinary chaos again there will be no more draws. If that happens a burger eat-off will be conducted. No time clocks, ghost eaters, designated munchers or interplanetary chomping will be allowed. It’ll be Katie Bar the Door… until a winner is declared.

The final 2018 results were: 1- T-Ray’s & Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro – tie; 2 – Sandbar Restaurant & Kitchen; 3- The Tavern; 4-  Karibo/Karibrew; 5- Lagniappe; 6-  Bar Zin; 7- Amelia River Golf Club; 8- Down Under; 9- Island BBQ;10- Picnic Basket

Joe’s is now shuttered. The Sandbar is now part of a corporate eatery chain and no longer considered eligible say the Fat Men. The downtown Fernandina Picnic Basket is long gone.

The winning local eatery will once again be awarded the highly prestigious trophy of a one-of-a-kind, fiercely sought-after, hand-painted piece of personalized art work created by Amelia Island’s legendary cartoonist and caricature artist, Steve Hall. It’ll be encased in a frame that once housed a color photo of a smiling, attractive family pictured in all the other frames found in the local Wall Mart’s bargain bin.

During their last two gastronomic incursions hereabouts the Fat Men restricted their gluttony to Amelia Island. This time they’re expanding their burger gorging to the entirety of Nassau County, from Fernandina Beach and Yulee to Hilliard and Callahan and any public eatery in between or on the fringes. No locally cooked ground beef in a bun will be overlooked.  However, corporate chains, e.g. McDonalds, Chilies, Burger King, etc. that are not local and follow their HQ’s formula cooking instructions don’t qualify.

The original Fat Man, holstered his knife and fork in 2017 and blasted off permanently to south Florida’s Burger Raton, leaving behind the following as his top five local selections: 1-Putt Putt at Main Beach; 2- T-Rays (202 South 8th St.)3- Salty Pelican (12 North Front St.)4- Leddy’s Porch at the Florida House (22 South 3rd St.)5- A tie with Halftime Sports Bar & Grill (320 South 8th St.) & Karibo (27 North 3rd St.). Putt-Putt no longer sells burgers and Halftime no longer exists.

“May I take your burger order sir.”

In 2018 the fat guys discovered the most expensive burger at the fancy-schmancy Ritz Carlton at $30 plus including valet parking and tip. The most economical was 2017’s champion, Putt Putt ($6.75 without tax).

Putt Putt is the Rocky Marciano of the local burger ring, retiring its “Beach Bum Burger” as undefeated champ when it inexplicably pulled out of the burger business after a change in ownership. It now concentrates on ice cream, hot dogs, and miniature golf. Like Marlon Brando’s character, Terry Malloy, in “On The Waterfront” it “…coulda been a contender.”

Also, if a restaurant serves a burger, it must serve it at lunchtime to make the Fat Men’s list, thus knocking a couple of north end restaurants and one popular dinner-only south island eatery out of contention from the start.

No longer eligible is Sandbar & Kitchen at Main Beach, which came in second behind the winning Joe’s/T-Ray’s 2018 duo. The affable Kevin Dooner, whose personality was the heart and soul of that place, sold the local Sandbar to Artistry Collection, a corporate chain of 31 restaurants in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, .The Fat Men are not seeking corporate formula cooking. They say they can find “it all tastes the same” stuff universally.

Selecting new Fat Men proved difficult, coming down to two hamburger aficionados that were so qualified it was challenging to make a choice, so I didn’t — they both got the job. Reports from the Fat Men’s previous news outlet, The Daily Planet, assure me this duo has hamburger standards as high as their cholesterol count. Both are excellent amateur cooks, one a prize-winning outdoor griller, the other a notorious gourmet chef.

A future local Nassau County burger platter?

For the next several months the two Fat Men From Space will beam themselves down to every local greasy spoon and hoity-toity island eatery that serves burgers and report back through this column.

Will the new Fat Men answer the age-old question of: Do mushrooms, eggs, avocadostruffled arugula, garlic aioli, or any other such space clutter belong on  a burger…..ever? We’ll see.

My only job is to wipe the grease, ketchup and mustard from their reviews and post them here so readers can check out the joints and judge for themselves to determine if the Fat Men are making the right calls. Once again they’ll be looking for the top 10 local Nassau County burger joints and appreciate neighborly advice.

Who are these two? I can’t say as their identities might influence burger cooks to provide incentives to influence their reviews. Not too far in the past I didn’t think this column carried any weight in the restaurant arena until a couple of local BBQ joint owners told me they sold out because of positive mentions here, a bigger surprise to me than them.

Price matters.. .a lot. A Wall Street Journal article in 2018 pointed out that the average price nationwide for a burger sold at restaurants is nearly 400 percent higher than the cost of its ingredients, the cost to the restaurant then being $1.86 and the average retail price coming in at $9.00. And all of the priced ingredients include tomatoes, onion, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, mustard and, of course, the beef, the reporter claimed. That was six years ago. Bidenomics has sent those prices into the stratosphere and the Fat Men will now be sampling Bidenburgers.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose  by 3.5% year-over-year in March, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, following a 3.2% year-over-year increase in February. Even though inflation is down from a recent high of 9.1% in June 2022, prices have risen over 18% since Biden took office in January 2021. No doubt about it, these Bidenburgers will cost bigger bucks.

I don’t think we’ll ever see another Putt Putt burger which consisted of fresh, not frozen angus beef, and offered what the now retired Fat Man says was the best burger hereabouts for just a $6.75 including tax. Good grief, the now retired Fat Man’s 2017 best-ever burger was 25 cents cheaper than one island restaurant’s $7.00 kid’s menu burger, tax not included. Those were the infamous “Good ‘Ole Days.”

If you have a favorite local burger place that you think needs to be checked out tell me at and I’ll pass it on to the fat guys.

So, with that in mind beginning this week the new Fat Men will strap on their bibs and the burger battles will begin.

(Editor’s Note: Fat Men From Space” is a 1977 children’s book by Daniel Pinkwater about William, a young boy held captive in a spaceship, while aliens landed and wiped out the earth’s supply of junk foods leaving only healthy stuff behind. If you have or know kids between 5 and 10, gift them this book. If they don’t like reading, they will after digesting this. It may not still be in print but can be ordered from Amazon.)


The First sign.

Cigar Bar Neighbor Blowing Smoke: I’m not a smoker so I’ve never had an inclination to visit the recently opened 406 Ash Street Cigar Parlor until a reader sent me the photo shown here.

I stopped by the attractive house in the Historic District recently to ask owner John Freese what enticed his obviously irritated neighbor to hang the sign on the side of his house.

John told me the neighbor complained that the musicians playing at the Cigar Parlor were too loud. The decibel measurements John had taken indicated the opposite; in fact they were lower than those permitted by the city. There is never more than one musician, the music mostly acoustic, and they play 6-9 pm.

The cranky neighbor’s sign also got the city’s attention. Code Enforcement didn’t look favorably upon it. City Code Enforcement officials tell me the neighbor was told to remove it because its size violated city code. So what did this “good” neighbor do? He installed a smaller sign with the same message to conform to city size standards, not particularly neighborly but within the law.

This neighbor has also been displaying the tattered upside down American flag shown here. It has since been replaced with a newer one, also flown upside down.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense the America flag should never be displayed upside down unless trying to convey a sign of distress or great danger. The department also states that “Dirty, ripped, wrinkled, or frayed flags should not be used. It says that when flags are damaged, they should be destroyed in a dignified manner.”

There are no penalties for disrespectfully displaying the American flag, however, it indicates disrespect by the person displaying it according to the government site.

I don’t mind the smell of cigar smoke and found during my visit that The Cigar Parlor is a pleasant a place as any hereabouts to have a cold beer or a glass of excellent wine and chat with friends and neighbors. It even boasts a “no smoking” room, an oddity, I thought, for a cigar bar. The front porch setting reminds me of when I was a kid sitting with family, friends and neighbors listening to a baseball game on the radio on a warm spring evening.

I’ll soon return to this cozy turn of the century bungalow for a beer or two and to enjoy the music and ambience. The neighbor should join in as he/she appears to be a very lonely, sad person.


Hank Aaron in 1953 as a member of Jacksonville’s minor league team.

Speaking Of Honor & Respect: On this, the 50th  anniversary of Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s mark, my Atlanta friend, Gary McKillips, recalls the time he traveled with legendary baseball great Aaron, when Aaron spoke at the National Press Club in D.C.

“I had the pleasure of working with Hank Aaron at Turner Broadcasting,” Gary recalled. “He and I bonded over his love of the Cleveland Browns. We also played racquetball. But that’s a story for  another time. Being head of corporate and sports PR, I would be available to review Hank’s speeches and occasionally would travel with him for various presentations,” he explained.

“We once went to Washington where Hank spoke to the National Press Club. I was in the back of the room when he was introduced and happened to be standing next to the great author and syndicated columnist George Will. When Hank came to the podium the crowd clapped, cheered, and literally roared expressing their admiration for the greatest home run hitter of all time.”

“As we stood there, George turned to me and said, ‘We have kings, queens, presidents and movie stars speak here, but no one has ever received this kind of ovation.’”

Aaron hit the record breaker April 8, 1974 in Atlanta.

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@jeffeytoobin - 23. Apr, 2024 - Reply

When the first President in American history is found guilty of a Crime, his blind cult followers will not care. The rest of us must. In November, we can insure that a Convicted Felon does not occupy the Oval Office.

hunter Walker - 23. Apr, 2024 - Reply

TDS! Nothing in this week’s blog touched on national politics, AKA Trump. 14th Amendment challenges, gone. Fani Willis’ case almost gone. Jack Smith’s case teetering on the brink. ‘Tisha James going nowhere. Alvin Bragg’s case, “come on man”. Any “crime” he is found guilty on will be overturned on appeal. What felon will Trump by convicted on that you, Mr. tube-i doing your thing on Zoom?

Karen McDougal - 25. Apr, 2024 - Reply

What about the hush money he paid porn star Stormy Daniels? Donald Trump has not been able to remain loyal to any of his wives, yet y’all think he has the best interest of the country in his heart?

Hunter Walker - 25. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Zero convictions, 100% allegations. And “y’all think” Joe Biden has the best interests of the country in his heart?

George Millers - 26. Apr, 2024 - Reply

You say TDS – I say democracy is at stake.

Dave Seaman - 21. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Dave….put The Patio at 5th and Ash on the Fatmen’s list!

Tom Yankus - 22. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Dave Seaman is spot on. The Patio Burger is a go to.

Neil Borum - 19. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Found out recently the city’s Fire Department will dispose of our old and damaged American flags.

CoCoNUT Harry - 19. Apr, 2024 - Reply

I remember watching the great Hank Aaron hit that record breaking home run in Atlanta in 1974 on TV. The crowd went wild !

Hunter Walker - 19. Apr, 2024 - Reply

The rest of us were there in person, ha ha!

CoCoNUT Harry - 19. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Good for you – I didn’t realize the stadium was that big …..

Phil Tita - 19. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Bring on the Fat Men. Looking forward to their reviews.

Peg Dickinson - 19. Apr, 2024 - Reply

YAY!! I started reading your column for your restaurant comments and the Fat Men, much better then the never ending whining politics. Can’t wait for the reviews!

Dave Lott - 20. Apr, 2024 - Reply

Enjoyed the column Dave and look forward to the results of the best burger contest. I would hope that some sort of restrictions be placed on the “toppings” and limit to condiment sauces. Bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato in order to have a fair comparison. But your contest.

Debbie and I were lucky enough to be at Fulton County Stadium the night Hammerin’ Hank hit his record breaking home run. A great memory.