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The Light Files - Russell Weil

Russell Weil

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Ditch the broccoli! Burger blogger Russell Weil knows Houston’s best burgers and he’s started a new venture! Laura Max has the story.

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Laura: Hi, everyone. I'm Laura Max, your host of The Light Files on thebusinessmakers.com, brought to you, as always, by Audi Central Houston. I'm here today with a very special guest. Russell Weil is my colleague at Content Active, where I work full time as a Project Manager. And for those of you who don't know Russell, he also happens to be the author of a burger blog, which you can find at eat-more-burgers.com. Russell, welcome to the show.

Russell: Thank you Laura. It's great to be here.

Laura: So you started writing a burger blog in November when the rest of us were just getting ready to make our New Year's resolutions. You'd already really made yours. Tell us about your blog.

Russell: Well it was a blog I started in November, as you said, and it came about because I have a group of guys, buddies, that I go to eat burgers with every month. And we decided that we would talk about our burgers. And we were first trying to determine what we would call our group. We couldn't agree on a name, so I thought well Eat More Burgers sounds good, because that's what we're doing, and the blog came from that.

Laura: Now you told me once that you had a friend who actually goes around the world and he tastes chocolate in all these different countries and then he writes about it.

Russell: That's correct. That's correct.

Laura: So you got your idea from this. Obviously burgers was your food of choice.

Russell: It was, but Joe had an influence on me and I decided I wanted to blog about something that I really enjoyed, and burgers was that.

Laura: So you have eaten burgers all over the City, you've written about them. I am one of the many people who's benefitted from your blog. I have found myself in my car thinking what am I going to have for lunch today. I wonder what Russell wrote about this weekend. So I want to know, tell me about some of your favorite findings in the City.

Russell: Well first of all it's great because I have a lot of friends or family who email me or text me, "Where can I go get a great burger?" And I send them to different places. But I have two favorites in the City.

Laura: Okay.

Russell: My theory is this, there are restaurants that serve only burgers that make good burgers, and there's a restaurant that has a great burger on its menu of other things that they serve. So my favorite restaurant that serves only burgers is Stanton City Bites.

Laura: Stanton City Bites, and where is that for those who don't know?

Russell: That is at First Ward near the intersection of Houston Avenue and Washington Avenue, and it's just a phenomenal burger place. They were featured on the Travel Channel's Burger Land, and I love that place. Everything about it is perfect.

Laura: So something I know about you is that you never really order your average cheeseburger. Is there a certain burger we should be ordering there if we go?

Russell: Well I do like bacon cheeseburgers, and the special topping is always a fried egg.

Laura: Mmm, that sounds so good. Like a heart attack waiting to happen. But delicious.

Russell: Exactly. Exactly.

Laura: So what's the, what's your second favorite?

Russell: It's a place called Lowbrow. It's near the Montrose area, and they have a wonderful burger on their menu called The Juicy Lucy, and it is juicy.

Laura: Now I have to admit, I did read Russell's write up about The Juicy Lucy and found myself at Lowbrow probably the next day, and he's absolutely right. It is one of the best burgers you will ever have. Okay, so I'm curious if you guys are all going out together, does everyone agree on the burger? What ends up happening?

Russell: Oh no, we don't agree. For instance, there's a wonderful restaurant, a wonderful burger place here called Hubcap Grill.

Laura: Right around the corner.

Russell: Right. And I was recommended by one of my burger buddies to try it. How wonderful the burger was. And I don't know whether the buildup was, was something I was anticipating, but it just wasn't great. So we don't agree on that.

Then there were some other restaura - the first time we went to a burger place it was called Sparkle Burger, and it was kind of in the interesting part of town, more of in the east of downtown, and everybody was talking about how phenomenal this burger was. And three of us out of four of us who went thought it was the worst burger we ever had. We don't fight about it, but we kind of razz each other if somebody has a bad, bad choice. Fortunately, everyone has loved my choices that I have taken us too.

Laura: Well that's because you're the expert.

Russell: Abs - apparently so. Yeah.

Laura: So you have an answer to the differing opinions actually. You actually allow contributors on your blog, is that correct?

Russell: I do. Well my buddies. I allow them to blog. The other day when we went to - the place of choice for my buddy Mark, whose birthday was last week, he wanted to go to Five Guys. I'm like with all the places in town, Five Guys. But we went there, and so for his birthday I let him blog. And every now and then when he goes off on his own - he loves to blog, and he was kind of jealous that I started the blog. He goes, "Why didn't I think of this before you did?" I said, "Well, you know."

Laura: So you're giving him his piece of the pie.

Russell: I am helping him out. Yes.

Laura: So, you're blogging now. I mean obviously you do work full time at Contact Active. What do, what do you see for your blogging ventures? There are so many people who are taking on Internet businesses or writing on the side and really pursuing their passions. I mean what would you ideally like to see your blog become?

Russell: Well I would like it to be more than just a Houston blog. I would like to take it statewide, nationwide, and travel around the world for the best in prime burgers, and I would like to become the go to place for burger advice, burger experience, and burger options.

Laura: So I think the question in everyone's mind here today, Russell, is if you can't see Russell and you're listening on the radio right now, and you're not watching us online, on the businessmakers.com, you're probably thinking that is one very in shape small man. How do you, how do you not pack on the pounds? I mean what do you do to stay healthy?

Russell: Well I do run. I probably should eat a little better than I do, but I do try to balance my diet. For every burger I have, I do something healthy as well as far as -

Laura: Well it's working, 'cause I have to say as somebody who has lunch beside almost every day, you would never know that you were eating a burger almost every day for lunch, which was happening at one point. We've, we've gotten healthier around here.

Russell: It has. I've tried to scale back, but I don't know, good genes, I have no idea. I just love the burgers so much and my body loves them as well.

Laura: So what's your, what's your next outing with the burger buddies? Where are you guys headed next?

Russell: We are going to a place here in the Heights called Christian's Tailgate, and that's going to be a new experience for all of us, because none of us have been there. You know, it's interesting, when we go to a place that one or two have been it's fun, but when we all get to experience a new burger together it's phenomenal because we get to trade our tastes, our impressions, and it's kind of neat to be able to do that.

Laura: So let's talk about the blogging side of it for a little while. I'm a blogger myself and I think there's so much that goes into blogging. It's like having another job on the side of my, the job that I already have. What were some of the things that you did to put your blog together? What kind of resources did you use, and what goes into a blog post for you?

Russell: The first aspect of the blog I wanted was the design, and I wanted the focus to be on the burger, and that's really the focus of my blog and what I write about. The second was I wanted a unique logo to represent what I, the whole concept of Eat More Burgers, and I have a wonderfully talented niece who designed the logo for my last birthday. And once she presented that logo to me, I created the blog.

And the blog, I felt, needed to be a representation of local eateries that would keep people interested. And I think the most important aspect about the blog is to of course describe the taste, describe the flavor, but also give a good recommendation as to whether you would suggest that to a friend or a family member or not.

Laura: So once all that's said and done, I know you've gotten some leads from your blog. I think you've had people ask if you want to eat for free. What's some of the more excited unexpected stuff that's happened to you as a result of blogging?

Russell: Well I have developed a good rapport with some of these restaurants that I have left, that I have blogged for, and they're all behind me 100 percent. They're all appreciative of the blogs. I have a - interesting, I have a - I think I'm getting a little reputation, even with my family, which is the hardest audience. My sister-in-law was working with a local restaurant group for an interior design project and people have talked about their burgers not being their favorite, simply due to the shape of the burger.

And so she asked me would I go and eat that burger and blog about it, as if I had such credibility, and I thought that was kind of neat that -

Laura: You're becoming the expert.

Russell: Right. And so I went over there and they were, they were so welcoming of me when I told them I was there to blog. And some restaurants, I walk in after they know that I'm a blogger and they think I'm some famous food critic, and they just give me special items and treat me as if I'm royalty, so that's kind of neat as well

Laura: What I find so amazing is that with, with blogging, with social media, it's so much easier nowadays if you really love something to really make yourself an expert in that field, and that's exactly what you've done. You know?

Russell: I hope so. I mean people, people do rely on me to give them burger advice. I think that's kind of, it's kind of funny and it's kind of cool at the same time.

Laura: So Russell, if people want to visit your burger blog, they can head to eat-more-burgers.com. They can also visit you on Facebook. What's your Facebook URL?

Russell: That's correct. It's, it's Facebook\eatmoreburgers.

Laura: Fantastic. Well check out Russell's blog and his Facebook page. It will have your mouth watering for delicious cheeseburgers. I am certainly a victim of that, and a very grateful reader. Thank you for being on the show, Russell.

Russell: Well thanks for having me, and thanks for being a fan of the blog.

Laura: And as thank you all for joining us. I'm Laura Max, your host of The Light Files on thebusinessmakers.com, brought to you by Audi Central Houston. You can find me on Twitter, twitter.com\lauramaxnelson, or Facebook, facebook.com\thelightfiles. And we'll see all next week. Bye.

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