Checkers Opens: Lowbrow Brilliant or Despicable?

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We’re just back from — you guessed it! — Checkers. As promised, the burger chain opened its first Manhattan store (at 77 Chambers) at 1 p.m. today. Within 40 minutes, there were more than 40 people waiting for Baconzilla burgers, Vanilla Cokes, and Cherry Sprites. We knew this place would be lowbrow, but the question remained: Brilliant or despicable? We ordered the burger and, alas, the thin, dry patties don’t rise to the level of Burger King or Wendy’s, and certainly not a made-to-order joint like Five Guys. The banana shake tasted artificial compared to Sonic’s, and we doubt the chocolate shake rivaled White Castle’s. The paprika fries were soggy but decent, if you don’t mind a buttery taste. We’re going to have to put Checkers in the lowbrow-despicable quadrant, though not too deep in there, given the Vanilla Coke and the fries. In any case, it’s clear the neighborhood isn’t as skeptical about the place as some are: Forty people in line versus zero next door at Carl’s.