If you’re looking for a good excuse to enjoy a great burger, here are two. First off, May is National Burger Month, and secondly, South Buffalo’s Doc Sullivan’s features $5 burger night every Wednesday. A five-spot will get you Doc’s house burger, which is a half-pounder.
Every week, owner Tommy Cowan and his kitchen staff also get creative and debut a unique burger of the week. Cowan’s menu creations look so mouth-watering that they even caught the attention of the Cooking Channel on Instagram.
Cowan, who has owned Doc Sullivan’s for the past two and a half years, spends endless hours running Doc Sullivan’s, along with 40 Thieves on Elmwood Avenue. He carved out some time to talk burgers, creative cravings and more.
Question: How did you come up with $5 burger night?
Cowan: We do wing nights on Monday and Tuesday with 50 cent wings. I wanted to do something on Wednesdays and Thursdays and it popped in my head, “Why not do something different that other people don’t do?”
Wednesday is a good night to get a really good burger for five bucks.
Q: How can you make money on that?
A: We don’t make money on it, but people come in and hang out and it’s a good vibe. We also do a special burger every week.
You can come in and have the $5 house burger – it’s 8 ounces on a brioche roll - or try the special each week, usually $12. The specials sell great and we do a ton of $5 burgers.
Q: How do you come up with the ideas for the specials?
A: I work with the kitchen manager, Denise, and say, “What are you in the mood for?” She might be craving avocado or I’m craving something really spicy. We did a burger on jalapeno cheddar bread – it was so good.
I look around online, but I don’t get my ideas there - I go with what I crave. If I’m in the mood for pizza, we do a pizza burger. We come up with all the burgers and sauces.
Q: Do regular customers await the weekly creation?
A: We decide what we want to do on Monday and we’ll mess around with it and on Wednesday at noon we start the special burger and it goes from Wednesday to Sunday.
If I don’t post anything by Tuesday night or Wednesday, people are calling the restaurant. I focus on Instagram. People come in religiously for our burgers.
Q: How can people find you on Instagram?
A: Tommy Cowan (tommyc221). We will be on the Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats – they contacted me through my Instagram.
We did wings and then they came back for a second day to shoot. They recognized Doc’s through my Instagram.
Everyone is interested in food and I focus on food. It should air in October or November.
Q: Do you have a culinary background?
A: I’ve always been in the restaurant business. I was always a bartender and a waiter and ran bars. I had a brief moment in culinary school, but didn’t carry it out.
I had always had an interest as a kid - my mom cooked every night and my grandparents - it stuck with me. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I do all my own menus and ingredients.
INFO: Doc Sullivan's, 474 Abbott Road; 436-3302. Kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; wings usually available until 1 a.m.
*Read also: Carey's interview with the owner of Aunt Millie's in Irving.