Owner Heather Koch makes change for Perry Lovelace. She said she’s happy to be back among happy customers instead of the angry one she encounters around town when she shuts down for the winter.

Owner Heather Koch makes change for Perry Lovelace. She said she’s happy to be back among happy customers instead of the angry one she encounters around town when she shuts down for the winter.

Summer must be here: Bubba Burger is back

‘It’s local, it’s delicious and it’s predictable’

Bubba’s back.

And it’s tough to figure out who’s more excited to smell the roadside sizzling burgers, bacon and homemade salt n’ pepper chips wafting through Freeland — the cooks or the customers.

The bright neon yellow food truck that’s tough to miss on the side of Highway 525 fired up its grill for the summer about two weeks ago.

And the orders just keep on coming, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. four days a week, owner Heather Koch said, juggling gyros, Bubbette burgers, fish and chips, salads and dogs.

“It’s been the busiest we’ve ever been this early,” she said. “The line formed right away.”

Bubba Flame Broiled Burger has been serving up Cardiac Arrest Burgers, Inferno Burgers, Bubba Big Birds and lots more formidable burger dishes with five homemade sauces since 2013.

Customers happily sat down for a quick lunch on picnic tables despite the chill in the air last Thursday.

One family from Clinton declared “we missed it all the time, all winter.”

“I get a gyro when it’s gyro day or the Bubbette Bleu with bleu cheese on it. It’s fabulous,” said Kelly Scotthanson, eating with two hungry teens.

“They’re super friendly,” she said of Bubba’s four-person staff. “They remember everyone’s name and they ring a bell if you’ve never been here.”

Perry and Judith Lovelace decided to order a gyro and split it in half.

“We eat here every chance we get,” declared Perry Lovelace. “It’s local, it’s delicious and it’s predictable.

“And it’s just fun listening to the chatter, the singing coming from the kitchen.”

Many bit into their favorite dish with a flourish as if they’d been Bubba-less for eons.

They had.

Bubba’s is a summer fling, a flash in the flame-broiled pan, and then, bam, heartbreak burger.

“Three of my staff went off to college last year so I had to close early,” Koch said. “This year, we hope to stay open a little bit longer.”

Christine Lincks and daughter Rachel Lyons were taking a break from working at nearby salon, Nails with a View.

“They have something for everybody here, garden veggie burger, hot dogs, and their chicken Caesar salad is really good,” Lincks said. “We come here a lot if the line isn’t too long.

“But I do curse at them every time they close for the season,” Lincks admitted, laughing. “And we don’t believe they should take Tuesdays off for thorough cleaning.

“That’s Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off and that takes a lot of nerve when they’ve been gone all winter and we’ve been here hungry.”

Many regulars sauntered up to the order window and before they could speak, Koch rattled off, “Same as yesterday?”

She knows what names go with what faces — Erica, Roberto, Rick, David — and if she doesn’t, she punts.

“It’s amazing the thousands of people’s names I know, right Lorraine?” Koch winked at the customer in the window.

“Oh yes,” said the woman, suddenly remembering Koch had deemed her “to be a Lorraine.”

Ordering the same thing for “upteen years” earned Jelcy Romberg a namesake dish.

“They call it the Jelcy Burger,” she said, pointing to the menu. “It’s Bubba Bleu, no bread, just onions, meat and don’t forget the chips.”

Koch said she’s happy to be back among her loyal fans when they’re happily chomping their Bubba burgers.

Winter, it’s a different story.

“I can’t go out because everywhere I go, they want burgers,” she said. “‘I’ll be at the store and someone will say, ‘It’s the Bubba lady. We want a burger.’

“And I say, I just want eggs and milk, people and I’m on my way.”

Judith and Perry Lovelace of Useless Bay split a gyro sandwich at the seasonal Bubba Burger in Freeland.

Judith and Perry Lovelace of Useless Bay split a gyro sandwich at the seasonal Bubba Burger in Freeland.

Clinton residents Kelly and Emma Scotthanson and Hannah Rich said they missed Bubba’s “all the time” the last six months.

Clinton residents Kelly and Emma Scotthanson and Hannah Rich said they missed Bubba’s “all the time” the last six months.

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