Cassell's Hamburgers still sizzling at 70

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- When it opened in 1948, Cassell's Hamburgers were the best in Los Angeles.

Al Cassell opened his lunch counter at 6th and Berendo and made his reputation using only quality ingredients, including prime beef ground fresh daily and homemade ingredients including mayonnaise, potato salad, and lemonade.

After more than 40 years, Cassell's was sold, it operated for a while, then it closed briefly.

It was reopened five years ago in Koreatown's renovated Hotel Normandie, with Chef Christian Page at the grille.

He brought back the original recipes and added some new menu items. But when burgers have a seven-decade reputation, Page knew he'd be cooking for a following that accepts no substitutions.

"As soon as we put the new hand-painted signs in the window, I would be in the kitchen testing things, and every day, without fail, someone's knocking on the door," Page recounted the message he got, "How's the potato salad supposed to be? The burger better be right."

Chef Page uses the same style Hobart meat grinder that Cassell used, blending prime chuck and brisket ground daily. He forms the hamburgers in the same patty press that Cassell made from industrial parts. The burgers are cooked on Cassell's original 1940s crossfire broiler with 500 degrees of searing heat from above and below.

To celebrate its history, Cassell's has had a week-long 70th anniversary celebration this past week, ending with its final pop up chef collaboration. A portion of proceeds go to No Kid Hungry, a charity program to end food insecurity.

Cassell's loyalists needed little encouragement to turn out. Mica Rabineau, who's been enjoying Cassell's burgers since he was 10, said, "It's old-fashioned, it gives you that L.A. Vibe, it's Koreatown, and it's a hamburger and it's pretty fun."

More about the 70th anniversary can be found here, on Cassell's Hamburgers.
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