by Bill Koelzer
Biggie’s Burgers owner Richard Brown gets a call on a Monday from a fellow who orders several burger meals that he says he will pick up on Wednesday. While writing down the order, Richard tells the guy that he can hardly hear him and asks what all that loud noise is. The guy tells him, “That’s gun fire. I’m in Iraq. I’m leaving here Monday and I’ll be there Wednesday to pick up my order.” And he did.
Richard says Biggie’s Burgers loves Marines. “They’re not supposed to wear their camouflage uniforms in most public places. So they’ll call in a huge order and then a carload of them in ‘cammies’ will pull up by our back door to pick it all up.”
Big orders are not unusual at Biggie’s Burger, known for its massive 3-pattie “king burger” and real ice cream shakes. “We routinely have people from the San Onofre power plant order 100 burger and fry meals at once and then send someone to pick them up.”
Richard says his food is popular because most everything is hand-made at Biggie’s. “We hand cut the onions and zucchini ourselves and coat them in our own special batter. Same with the lettuce and we use only fresh 80/20 hamburger, never frozen, and we form it into patties right here.”
Richard and wife, Judi, enjoy their many surfer customers as well. The interior walls of Biggie’s’ sport dozens of beach- and surf-oriented scenes all painted by Alli of Alli’s Art Studio, Oceanside. Mounted high on a wall there’s even a big surfboard donated and inscribed by Bill Stewart, the true father of the modern longboard.
Richard knows food service because he grew up in the industry. His dad owned a sit-down restaurant in Oakland where Richard worked as a youth.
“All I ever wanted was to be in the restaurant business,” smiles Richard, “aside from refueling planes aloft in the Air Force, (Richard was the one in KC-135 Stratotanker aerial tanker planes who directed the hose in the path of the plane being refueled.)”
After the military, in 1962, Richard began working with Taco Bell, owning his own franchise unit in Westminster. After 20 years he retired, did some sailing, but he missed the action. He lasted five years, and then in 1989 began consulting work for the Fat Burger chain where he became VP of Operations.
In 1991, 22-years-ago, he started his own Fatburger unit in San Clemente where he says he is truly blessed to have long-term employees. Gregorio Bonilla has been with him 20 years, and brothers Ernesto and Fabin Lopez, 15 years. On Saturday, March 30, he even took three of his employees to an Angel baseball game.
Judi, his lovely wife of 30 years and a South Carolina-born girl, is very active in the administrative part of the business, working many years right alongside Richard in the unit. She is also active in the San Clemente Woman’s Club, one of the oldest charitable clubs in the city.
Due to various machinations at Fat Burger, Richard recently changed his restaurant’s official name from Fat Burger to Biggie’s Burgers & More, keeping the menu basically unchanged though still within trademark rules.
What’s coming up next at Biggie’s? Richard has introduced a new smaller onion ring called “Onion Strings” with a thin coating. Also, new for summertime - a BBQ burger.
“Continuing the high quality always,” Richard admits, is his ongoing goal. Napkin dispensers on tables read “What you see is what you get,” astride a photo of an actual burger, a mile high and packed with goodies. If you order one, it looks even better than the picture.
Richard waves a hand to take in his restaurant, “We have a saying here that every employee follows to a T - ‘If we don’t serve it to our mothers, we will not serve it to you.’”
That saying is also painted, as a constant reminder, on the wall at Biggie’s.
Contact Biggie’s Burgers at