Donna, Mike and Gus King — owners of the Elm's Club in Creston — celebrated earlier this week when their establishment was again named a top 10 finalist for Iowa's Best Burger contest.
One hundred and seven miles away, an Orient-Macksburg graduate was celebrating, too.
Jason Mikkelsen — a 1996 graduate of O-M — opened Brick City Grill at 2704 Stange Road in Ames less than one year ago. His up-and-coming bar and grill was also named a finalist in the contest.
"We are beyond excited," Mikkelsen said. "The restaurant business is not an easy one, so a contest like this really helps generate interest. We've already had customers come in and tell us they read about us on Facebook, in the paper or on the news."
Like Elm's Club, Mikkelsen said his signature burgers are fresh, never frozen patties.
"I mean fresh," Mikkelsen said. "I place my order at 11 a.m. in the morning and the beef is not even ground up at that time yet. We get the beef the next morning around 6 a.m. and then begin preparing fresh patties by hand."
Mikkelsen is the son of Rita and Reg Mikkelsen of rural Creston.
"We're really happy for him," Rita said. "He's worked really hard to have a restaurant of his own. We get up there as often as we can. My favorite is the pretzel burger."
Hours at Brick City Grill in Ames are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Mikkelsen said he doesn't recall ever having a burger from the Elm's Club, but he does plan to next time he's back in southwest Iowa for the holidays.
Who will win?
This is the fifth year for this best burger contest put on by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Starting this week a secret panel of judges will begin evaluate the top 10 burgers based on taste, appearance and proper serving temperature of 160 degrees.
The panel visits each establishment anonymously. The winner of the 2014 Iowa's Best Burger contest will be announced the first week in May.
To learn more about the contest, visit www.iabeef.org where you can find a map of the 10 finalist or “friend” the Iowa Beef Council Facebook page.
The winner in 2013 was the 61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis. Other previous winners include Coon Bowl III in Coon Rapids (2012), Rusty Duck in Dexter (2011) and Sac County Cattle Company of Sac City (2010).
This year's top 10 finalists include:
Ankeny Diner, Ankeny Big City Burgers & Greens, Des Moines Brick City Grill, Ames Elm’s Club, Creston Ferg’s My Tighe’s, Grand Junction First Street Grille, Keosauqua Ride’s Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge The Ritz, Arnold’s Park Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll Zombie Burger, Des Moines