Last weekend, Alan and I resumed our 47-year love affair with Ann Arbor’s oldest (and to my mind best) hamburger stand: the legendary Krazy Jim’s. Krazy Jim’s opened in 1953, a full 2 years before McDonald’s planted her golden arches across the street from my childhood home in East Lansing
(during the years when my dad taught at MSU). Since that time, McDonald’s has sold over 300 billion burgers
and daily serves some 68 million customers in 119 countries… while Krazy Jim just kept hand-grinding his fresh chuck every morning, serving juicy, mouth-mesmerizing burgers year by year at his one and only restaurant. Krazy Jim’s has won a number of awards over the years (such as being named a “10 great places for regional fast-food treasures” by USA Today back in 2012), but I think Jim Shafer’s goal was to be legendarily good, not legandarily big. My dad used to say, “You pays your nickel, and you takes your choice.” Jim took his choice, and for my nickel, I’d choose Krazy Jim’s any time I could! Back in the day (Krazy 60’s) when Alan and I were hungry-hearted college kids, Krazy’s was on S. Division,
but they had to relocate in 2013 when their lease expired, and it took until August of 2014 to reopen at 304 S. Ashley St. Now Krazy Jim’s is right next door to the Fleetwood Diner (which sounds totally suspect, but it’s actually a very popular hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon for college kids where they serve breakfast all day). It took Alan and me another year and a rained-out canoe trip to find them again, but we were in our glory to crunch into one of their dreamy triple burgers on an onion roll loaded with veggies. In fact, a math student swears that there are 2,147,483,648 possible combinations given the options for varieties of cheeses, buns, veggies and number of patties offered. To top off your grease bomb, be sure to add some of their famous deep-fried veggies, and maybe a pint of chocolate milk. The prices are right too: Where else can you get coffee for a buck?
(Okay, so maybe at McDonald’s.) At any rate, if you’re feeling ravenous, or even if you’re feeling like you just want a great old-fashioned burger (selling to their 6th generation of addicts), be sure to check out Krazy Jim’s next time you’re in Ann Arbor. But, unless you’re a masochist,
go on a weekend when there’s an away game…like we did! Go Blue!!
(Here’s my “little sister,” Lizzie, at the U.M. game in MD that day. We won!) And, how about you and me? If you could choose, would you rather be remembered for being famous, or for providing great food? There is much to be admired about the industry of both “Krazy” Jim and McDonald’s maven, Ray Kroc, but I know where I’d rather eat! How about you? Fame and fortune, or good name and great feast? Now that I think about it, I don’t think Krazy Jim was crazy at all!
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,
and loving favour rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1).