The restaurant's storefront.
|Previous owner(s)||Byron and Virginia Hardin|
|Street address||Newport Avenue|
|Other locations||Downtown San Diego |
Hodad's is a small chain of hamburger restaurants in San Diego, United States, established in 1973 by husband and wife Byron and Virginia Hardin, who operated from a single burger stand until 1979. Following the death of co-founder Byron Hardin, their son Mike Hardin assumed operating responsibilities and ultimately took over the management following his mother's death in 1989. Hardin moved the restaurant to its current location on Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, later opening additional restaurants in Petco Park and on the corner of 10th Avenue and Broadway. Mike Hardin died in 2015, leaving the business to his children Shane and Lexi.
Hodad's has received positive reception for its burgers, especially its bacon cheeseburger. It was featured on Guy Fieri's TV show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Since appearing on the show, the restaurant enjoyed a large increase in sales, often selling thousands of burgers daily. It has also been included on multiple "best of" lists, including CNN's nationwide list of "Five tasty burger joints worth visiting" in 2009 and in 2015 on Foursquare's top 50 "best burger joints in America."
Husband and wife Byron and Virginia Hardin originally ran a restaurant in 1969 called Hardin's Barrel, in El Cajon, San Diego. In 1973, they purchased a burger stand in Ocean Beach, San Diego for $600 (equivalent to $3,386 in 2018) and called it Hodad's, the name originating as a surfing term for a non-surfer who pretends to be one. The restaurant moved to a larger venue on Voltaire Street in 1979 after the previous landlord doubled the rent, at which point the business started to see increased turnover and success. Hodad's moved to its current location on Newport Avenue in 1991, taking just four days to open. The restaurant expanded into a second location in downtown San Diego on the corner of Broadway in 2011, named "Hodad's Too" and approximately twice the size as their other outlet. Hodad's began selling its products in Petco Park after signing a partnership with the San Diego Padres. To celebrate this partnership, Mike Hardin threw the first pitch at a July 5 Padres game versus the Cincinnati Reds.
From its inception in 1973 until 1984, the restaurant was co-owned by Byron and Virginia Hardin. Their son, Mike Hardin, became co-owner when his father died in 1984. He assumed greater responsibility with business partner Terry Rhodes when his mother died in 1989. Mike Hardin was called a local icon by Discover San Diego and the San Diego Union-Tribune.Mike Hardin died on February 5, 2015, having suffered a heart attack and a makeshift memorial for was created by the community in front of the Ocean Beach restaurant. The restaurant closed during February 6th and 7th to honor both him and another employee, and was reopened on February 9. Hundreds of people attended a public memorial ceremony in late March at the Petco's Park location, including Guy Fieri. His son Shane and daughter Lexi became co-owners of the restaurant chain in 2015. In an interview with SD News, Shane discussed the pressures of taking over the business as well as both modeling his behavior after his father and establishing his own identity as its owner.
Hodad's is known for its bacon cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, and giant milkshakes. At the original beach location, Hodad's served burgers for 25 cents (equivalent to $1 in 2018), with burger prices ranging from $4.25 to $8.25 by 2015. When Mike Hardin took over the business, he began to create burgers with large portions and in 2013, created the Guido Burger, inspired by Guy Fieri and his nickname 'Guido,' who featured Hodad's on his show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Another burger is the Blue Jay, a bacon cheeseburger with blue cheese and grilled onions. Hodad's bacon patties are of a similar consistency to that of a hash brown.
Hodad's walls are decorated with numerous license plates, while stickers can be found at both Newport Avenue and 10th Avenue locations. Mike Hardin had previously said that everything in the Ocean Beach location is provided by customers. Other decor at Hodad's Too includes skateboards and surfboards on the wall as well as a surfboard table. Its style has been described as beach-like and biker-chic.
Hodad's has received positive reception for its burgers and style. It appeared on an episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the TV channel Food Network. The restaurant's bacon cheeseburger has been lauded by Guy Fieri, and in 2009 CNN included it on a list of "Five tasty burger joints worth visiting." Hodad's was featured in one of San Diego Magazine's "Everyday Eats" articles, which covers budget food options. In 2015 Foursquare ranked the restaurant 26th on its list of 50 "best burger joints in America." In an article by Hoodline, Hodad's burgers ranked number 3 out of 50 for quality burgers under $10. The San Diego Union-Tribune included it in its list of the 30 best burgers in San Diego. Times of San Diego's Hoa Quach included it in a list of restaurants to celebrate Father's Day in San Diego.
Serious Eats writer Erin Jackson gave it a positive review due to its bacon cheeseburger. The Daily Meal included it in its top 50 list of the best french fries in the U.S. Houston Press writer Robb Walsh argued that the burger was not actually the best in the country. San Diego Reader's Ian Pike included its burgers in his list of the most overrated burgers in San Diego, suggesting praise for them came from the sunk cost fallacy, although was more positive about their milkshakes.
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