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Flying High on Burgers

Cover Story Features

August 6, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

Ted Tsakiris, co-owner of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, is a self-proclaimed burger junkie — meaning he eats, breathes and lives burgers every day of his life. Tsakiris, along with co-owner Rich Stula, opened the doors to Teddy’s Bigger Burgers at the base of Diamond Head in 1998. Today, 13 years and five locations later, this renowned burger establishment continues to thrive here at home, having opened its most recent location in Westridge Center in Aiea. Teddy’s also is sprouting up in numerous spots across the globe.

  • Original Burger (5 oz. $4.99, 7 oz. $5.99 and 9 oz. $6.99) with Spud topping (59 cents) and Root Beer Extra Thick Shake ($4.99)
  • Teddy's dedicated team (sitting, clockwise) Turhan Folse, Rich Stula, Erin Sandon, Matt Stula, (standing) Jonathan R. Wendin, Ted Tsakiris and Charles Pettiford III.
  • Tots (small $2.59, large $3.39) and Fries (small $2.09 and large $2.89)
  • Monster Double (5 oz. $6.99, 7 oz. $8.49, 9 oz. $9.49)
  • Teri Burger (5 oz. $5.59, 7 oz. $6.59, 9 oz. $7.59)
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Dining Out recently paid a visit to Teddy’s Bigger Burgers Aiea where Tsakiris and his team proved why this is the place to be when craving the all-American classics of beastly burgers, savory fries, and thick and creamy shakes.

DO: It’s obvious that you have a great passion for burgers. How did the idea for Teddy’s Bigger Burgers come about?

TSAKIRIS: Yes, I honestly love burgers, and I am a burger freak show. I’ve always made 1-pound burgers and cooked them up at home. So, one day, soon after graduating from college, I asked my friend Rich if he wanted to open up a burger place and he said yes, and that’s how it happened. So we just started researching the simple concepts of the ’50s diners.

DO: It’s been 13 years since this burger establishment first opened at the base of Diamond Head. What can customers expect?

TSAKIRIS: Teddy’s Bigger Burgers isn’t sophisticated by nature — it’s very simple. We provide the best quality product and let it shine on its own. We do everything from the belly because we love burgers. We have our specialty menus and feature board, but everything is based on our basic burger and then you can make it as crazy as possible with additional toppings. We do have some suggestions in our employee favorites that we recommend to our customers because our employees really know flavor profiles.

DO: What would you recommend for a first-timer to Teddy’s who is indecisive about what to order?

TSAKIRIS: As far as our burgers go, we really want our customers to love what they’re eating. The one thing that’s consistent in the whole lineage of Teddy’s is that we always use ground chuck beef, potato buns and the best quality products. Our methods, procedures and mastery of serving burgers came with time. Some favorites here at Teddy’s are our Teri Burger (Big 5 oz. $5.59, Bigger 7 oz. $6.59, Biggest 9 oz. $7.59) Spud Burger (Big 5 oz. $4.99, Bigger 7 oz. $5.99, Biggest 9 oz. $6.99 with spud top-ping 59 cents) and Monster Double Burger (Big 5 oz. $6.99, Bigger 7 oz. $8.49, Biggest 9 oz. $9.49). The Spud Burger came to be because I pile french fries on my burgers all the time — we just substituted the fries for a seasoned hash brown patty. It’s also our burger of the month — we always have a burger and shake of the month that we feature at every location. The Monster Double also is a real superior product that we really take pride in, featuring two hamburger patties and slices of cheese. We have many combos (burger, fries and drink) available as well, starting at $7.99.

DO: Delicious! Everything is made-to-order, correct?

TSAKIRIS: Of course! Our ground chuck patties aren’t sitting in grease and oil on a flattop griddle. Instead our cooks cook every hamburger patty to order on a wide flame. All Teddy’s Burgers are cooked medium and stacked with super sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles unless otherwise requested. There’s no soy, binders or fillers. Everything is the real deal here, and we work to the extreme because we’re really serious about burgers, and we want to satiate a customer’s passion for burgers. The only way to do this, in my eyes, is to give 100 percent and put our best into everything.

DO: And to go with those awesome burgers are some mouthwatering “Fries-n-Sides.” What’s the magic behind these scrumptious sides, and what can diners look forward to in terms of Teddy’s Extra Thick Shakes?

TSAKIRIS: Yes, we have Teddy’s Extra Crispy Fries (small $2.09, large $2.89); Spicy, Garlic or Cheese Fries (small $2.59, large $3.39); Tots (small $2.59, large $3.39); and Onion Rings ($3.39). Our tots are super popular because our seasonings are great, especially our Cajun seasoning. Our Extra Thick Shakes ($4.99) pair perfectly with our burgers, whether it be Root Beer, Dreamsicle, Pineapple, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter, or original favorites, such as Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry.

DO: Teddy’s also caters to the keiki. What do the kids love?

TSAKIRIS: We have Kids Combos ($5.29), where the kids can pick from their choice of a Kid’s Burger, Corn Dog or Chicken Nuggets served with fries and a drink.

DO: In addition to burgers, Teddy’s also serves up sandwiches and salads/Caesar salads. What if you’re trying to be health conscious but still craving a burger?

TSAKIRIS: Well, when I’m on a heavy nutrition plan, I’ll substitute an actual burger for a burger wrap with the ground chuck burger and hold the seasonings to keep the sodium levels down. The secret to keeping your meal healthy is to order sauce on the side for everything — burgers, sandwiches, salads. Very health-conscious people will come in here and order burger wraps with fresh veggies and the lean ground chuck. You can also order a burger patty on your salad and sauce on the side. Remember, everything in moderation.

DO: Are you constantly thinking of new burger creations?

TSAKIRIS: Yes, we like to reinvent ourselves within our four walls and within our identity, and keep on flipping burgers and trying new flavors. But we still want to keep things rather simple. Company growth doesn’t necessarily come from adding new items — sometimes less is more. It’s all about executing, training and providing the best customer service. The first seven years of business was all about perfecting the product. Our mantra is quality, service, cleanliness and value.

DO: What does the future hold for Teddy’s Bigger Burgers?

TSAKIRIS: We are now starting to franchise on the Mainland, primarily Washington and Oregon, and Japan. The burger sector is really robust, and there’s a lot of success in this business if you have the right mindset. You get exactly what you put into it. There’s a reason why we’re still here after 13 years. I love burgers and we wanted to create a place that was our favorite burger joint. Teddy’s really came from the belly and an appreciation for burgers, it didn’t come from a business proposition — it’s what we coined “the burger approach to business.”

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

  • Where
    • Hawaii Kai
    • Koko Marina Center
    • 7192 Kalanianaole Highway
    • Honolulu, HI 96825
    •  
    • Kailua
    • Kailua Village Shops
    • 539 Kailua Road, #101
    • Kailua, HI 96734
    •  
    • Waikiki
    • Waikiki Grand Hotel
    • 134 Kapahulu Avenue
    • Honolulu, HI 96815
    •  
    • University
    • 2424 South Beretania Street, #101
    • Honolulu, HI 96826
    •  
    • Aiea
    • Westridge Center
    • 98-150 Kaonohi Street C-115
    • Honolulu, HI 96701
  • Call
    • (808) 394-9100 (Hawaii Kai)
    • (808) 262-0820 (Kailua)
    • (808) 926-3444 (Waikiki)
    • (808) 949-0050 (University)
    • (808) 486-2167 (Aiea)
  • Hours
    • 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily at all locations except
    • Waikiki
    • 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    • Monday – Thursday
    • 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Friday – Sunday
  • Website