The burger is king

Mike Fuller

Photo by Vic Cantu

On Feb. 1, Mike’s Grande Burger in Oroville celebrated 36 years in business. The restaurant, owned by Mike Fuller, serves American and Mexican food and is a popular gathering place for locals. It’s even been visited—twice—by Food Network celebrity chef Guy Fieri. It’s comfortably laid out, with lots of TVs and soft lighting. To commemorate the anniversary, during the month of February, the restaurant is offering a 36-ounce Grande Burger (that’s seven normal-size patties) for $19.81. If you can finish the beast in 15 minutes, it’s free, but you get a T-shirt either way. Mike’s is located at 2896 Olive Highway. Find it on Facebook or call 533-5780 for more info.

What do your customers like best about your restaurant?

Our atmosphere, where nearly everyone knows each other. Also that we buy our ingredients fresh locally, including our meat from a local butcher, which keeps the money in our community. They like our diverse menu, such as roasted chicken, and fish and shrimp tacos. But we’re famous for our hand-ground, 1/3-pound Grande Burgers, chili verde, and our handmade milkshakes made with premium-grade ice cream. Plus, you get a free 4-ounce chili while you wait on your food.

I hear Taco Tuesday is a big hit.

Yes, we started it in the ’80s and it’s reached cult status. You get two tacos for just $1.80, and it’s usually standing-room-only. We serve about 2,000 tacos each Tuesday, and people don’t mind waiting up to an hour. They socialize, drink, eat free chili, and everyone knows each other.

How do you keep it running after all these decades?

It’s hard work and dedication. I work seven days a week, opening and closing, while others go to birthday parties and vacations. Self-employed restaurant owners don’t get weekends, nights or holidays off if they want to stay in business. But I don’t do it on my own. We have a great staff, including my managing son, Levi, and we get very gracious support from the community.

What brought Guy Fieri in here?

He actually ate our tacos here twice, a year apart, about three or four years ago. He came in with a local friend during Oroville’s annual Salmon Festival. He joked that we were “a bunch of White guys making Mexican food.”

What inspired you to open Mike’s Grande Burger?

I ran my own burger place in Gridley called The Feed Bag. I knew burgers and wanted to do it in a bigger town. This place had a nice building, so here we are 36 years later!

What do you like best about it?

Getting to know everyone in town, including generations of customers. We’re on our second generation now, who were kids when we opened. Now the grandkids of our original customers are coming in.

Anything new?

Our whole indoor bar area was built just last spring and adds to the casual atmosphere. We’ve also built a large outdoor patio with a stage, which will have live music this summer.