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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Gino's is the place to go ... again

Posted to Announcement by Mr. Thomas Romano of Gino's Burgers & Chicken at 4:10 PM

THERE WAS a time when everybody went to Gino's, a time when a giant burger slathered in secret sauce left char-grilled imprints on the brains of a generation.

Gino's burgers were there by the bagful after Little League games, before David Bowie concerts, despite warnings from doctors to "cut back on the burgers." Then Gino's went away, slowly, like an aging hairline, and eventually, you could go there only in your mind.

"I don't know what it is. It's just something about Gino's," said John Flack Jr., of Marlton.

Flack has a website ( dedicated solely to Gino's, a "fondly remembered former East Coast regional fast-food chain." There are Facebook pages, too, both for fans and former employees, some of whom have taken a nostalgic route to Gino's, long after the last shop closed in Maryland in 1991.

You can't do much about balding, but yes, you can go back to Gino's. You can probably even meet Gino Marchetti, the NFL Hall of Famer who who helped launch the chain with fellow Baltimore Colt Alan Ameche and longtime friend Louis C. Fischer in Maryland in 1957.

"I'm here five days a week helping out with the cooking," said Marchetti, 85, from the Gino's on DeKalb Pike in King of Prussia, which was the first new Gino's to open, in fall 2010. "I like to work in the kitchen."

In August 2011, the former Baltimore Colt made a triumphant return to Maryland by opening a Gino's in Towson, his bacon-covered fries and milkshakes salve for those still wounded by the loss of their iconic team and beloved burger joints. The third Gino's opened in Bensalem a month later. Upper management says there soon could be dozens of Gino's franchises everywhere, including downtown Philadelphia.

"America has an undying love for the burger, and we were one of the first around," said Tom Romano, president and chief executive.

Romano spent nearly 20 years working for Gino's. He was there when Col. Sanders - yes, the real one - brokered a deal to sell his poultry at Gino's. Rustler, a steakhouse in which you could wear sweatpants, was also under the Gino's umbrella. At its height, there were more than 500 Gino's, based mostly in the Northeast and later headquartered in King of Prussia.

In 1982, Marriott bought Gino's for $48 million. The giant corporation was more interested in the real estate to usher in another chain, Roy Rogers.

Romano didn't stick around, saying that he couldn't be a part of the "destruction."

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Philadelphia: Beautiful Retro Burgers at Gino's in King of Prussia

Posted to Announcement by Mr. Thomas Romano of Gino's Burgers & Chicken at 4:09 PM

Gino's is a regional fast food chain that had a huge following in the '60s and '70s in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Named after Gino Marchetti, former defensive end of the Baltimore Colts, Gino's was one of the first burger chains to offer burgers made from fresh ground beef and hand cut fries, and their Gino's Giant burger competed with (and was introduced before) the similar Big Mac. The chain disappeared in 1982, until the brand was revived in 2010.

I passed this place a few times and didn't think much of it until my recent search for a half-decent fast food-style burger in Philadelphia. Sure, we have lots of grass-fed beef four-inch thick burgers drowned in truffle butter on brioche buns, but outside of Five Guys and the not-yet opened Philadelphia branch of Shake Shack, finding a delicious thin-patty fast food-style burger that doesn't start life in the freezer is almost impossible here. Gino's isn't even that close to the city, but the drive out to the suburbs is totally worth it.

The restaurant looks like your standard fast food set-up—counter, drink station, tables, and booths—although it's a nice touch that they bring your food out to you when it's ready (and even clean the tables when you leave). Gino's lays it on pretty thick with the '60s retro nostalgia, with old photos of the chain plastered everywhere and giant flat screen TVs blaring extra-crazy old Gino's commercials and jingles.

Burger options include the Gino's Giant—double patty with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, and "special sauce"—or your choice of a single or double burger topped with anything from the long list of free stuff (grilled onions, mushrooms, jalepeños, chipotle mayonnaise).

The medium well dual burger patties—no temps taken here—were well seasoned and still juicy with a nice crust and flowing with molten American cheese. A lightly toasted Big Marty's soft sesame bun managed to hold everything together, and all of the toppings were well balanced and fresh. Really just a beautiful burger—think Five Guys minus the peanuts and smashed bun, with a lot more care put into your food.

Bacon is another good choice here. Go for it.

The skin-on fries are decent—not sure if they are really hand cut or "hand cut-style," but either way they're worth getting. They're not super crispy but not soggy or greasy either. What really makes the fries sing is the crazy french fry toppings bar where you can bury your fries under malt vinegar, chipotle basil salt, or Gino's own "crab seasoning" for some Crab Fries, aka Old Bay Fries, quite possibly the only culinary tradition that Philadelphia and Baltimore share.

My friend and burger eating assistant (and owner of the iPhone 4S that took these awesome pictures—I don't believe it either) actually compared Gino's to In-N-Out Burger. I don't know about all that, but it might be the closest thing within 20 miles of Philadelphia.

I'm not sure if the suburbs have fully embraced what some are calling "high prices"—I guess in comparison with McDonalds or Burger King. In the city you'll pay $10 or $12 for a mediocre pub burger; if they opened a Gino's in center city I bet people would line up to pay $6 for a Gino's Giant, and give the upcoming Shake Shack invasion some homegrown competition.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Gino's Offers Free Food on NBC10

Posted to Announcement by Mr. Thomas Romano of Gino's Burgers & Chicken at 10:03 AM

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gino's Buger & Chicken Grand Opening Cekebration!

Posted to Event by Mr. Thomas Romano of Gino's Burgers & Chicken at 2:37 PM

Join us for Gino's Burger & Chicken Grand Opening Celebration!

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

611 West Dekalb Pike (across from Kind of Prussia Mall)

Experience the Gino Giant at 1970's prices ($0.59)

12:00 p.m. until 3:00pm
Ribbon cutting at 1:30

(610) 265-5900

Games, prizes, and fun all day!

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