AMES — For the past two weeks, Brick City Grill owner Jason Mikkelsen has been under strict instructions to not reveal his hamburger was crowned Iowa’s Best Burger for 2014.
And he was able to keep it a secret, for the most part.
“I told my wife, but that was it,” Mikkelsen laughed.
This is the fifth year of competition for Iowa’s Best Burger, sponsored by Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Iowans submitted more than 9,600 votes for 456 restaurants to select the 10 finalists.
“I was shocked, I did not expect to win,” Mikkelsen said. “I was happy just to be nominated, especially since we haven’t even been open a year yet.”
This is the first time Brick City Grill has entered Iowa’s Best Burger Contest. The restaurant — 2704 Stange Road in Ames — will celebrate its one-year anniversary May 13.
“It took a good day to completely set in,” Mikkelsen said. “I just want to ride this wave as long as I can for all it is worth.”
A 1996 Orient-Macksburg graduate, Mikkelsen has 18 years of experience in the restaurant business.
Mikkelsen is the son of Rita and Reg Mikkelsen of rural Creston.
Brick City Grill has eight hamburgers on the menu made from a proprietary chuck blend that is delivered fresh to the restaurant each morning at 6 a.m. It is hand-pattied and cooked on a flat-top grill. The only seasoning added is salt and pepper.
“I have a new burger that I am working on,” Mikkelsen said. “I am hoping to unveil it here in about a month. For now, I guess it just has to stay a mystery.”
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.
The contest does not rank the entire top 10, it just names a winner from the 10 finalist. Making the final cut for the second straight year was Elm’s Club, 108 N. Elm St. in Creston.
“It didn’t surprise me,” Elm’s Club co-owner Donna King said. “It looks like he has a great place and I talked with a couple people that said they really enjoyed their burger. I am thrilled to death for them and I can’t wait to go try one myself.”
Elm’s Club recently made two additions to their menu — barbecue bacon burger and bacon blue cheese burger on rye bread.
“We have a lot of repeat business, so this will be something new for them,” King said. “We thank our customers for supporting us and we are just glad to be nominated.”
King said the recognition of making the top 10 for Iowa’s Best Burger helps bring in a lot of business. The contest has created a group called “foodies” that travel the state trying all of the finalist’s burgers.
Once an establishment wins the title of Iowa’s Best Burger, it is removed from the list of possible candidates. Elm’s Club will be going for its third top 10 finish next year.
“We will keep cooking and will just have to wait and see what happens,” King said. “It is fun just to be recognized and get the publicity.”