Food & Drink

Iconic Burger Shake sign awaits new numbers as burger price hits three figures

Burger Shake on New Circle Rd. in  Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 6, 2014. The restaurant famous for it's sign with the price of a hamburger has raised the price over a dollar for the first time. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff
Burger Shake on New Circle Rd. in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 6, 2014. The restaurant famous for it's sign with the price of a hamburger has raised the price over a dollar for the first time. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff Lexington Herald-Leader

It's a sign — quite literally — of inflationary times: Burger Shake has bumped up the price of its classic burger from 99 cents to $1.23.

Since it opened in 1957 with a burger priced at 19 cents, the compact New Circle Road eatery has advertised the price of its basic burger on its circular sign above the restaurant.

Most recently, in 2011, the price hit 99 cents.

The new price hike, which took effect in September, means the sign now needs three digits for the price.

Hence there is a temporary vacancy in the sign while new numbers are ordered.

"We just haven't gotten them in yet," said Sammie Lilly, who co-owns Burger Shake with Sharyn Clements. The two are daughters of the founders, Joe Isaac and Dr. Samuel Isaacs.

The Burger Shake basic burger comes pretty well dressed, with pickle, mustard and onion slices. Ketchup, mayonnaise and lettuce are available on request. The burger arrives packaged in an old-fashioned wax paper bag.

The fries are crisp and salty, the shakes extra-creamy and the menu is still limited to old-style burger stand fare. The most exotic things you'll find at Burger Shake are the fish and chicken sandwiches.

Burger Shake does a brisk lunch business, and evening trade is strong.

Many Lexington residents grew up eating Burger Shake: It was on New Circle Road long before a McDonald's dotted every artery, decades before Taco Bell and Sonic and Papa John's moved in nearby.

Lilly said beef prices "have been going up for quite a while, and we'd been hanging on, but at some point we couldn't any longer."

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