A West St. Paul restaurant said it will be adding a new mouthwatering entree to its menu in honor of former Minnesota Vikings player and lieutenant governor candidate Matt Birk.
The announcement comes just days after two St. Paul restaurants, The Nook and Shamrocks, removed the “Matt Birk Burger” from their menus. The restaurants, which have the same owners and similar menus, pulled the burger after Birk’s comments about abortion received national media criticism.
Jameson’s Irish Bar said plans to create a Matt Birk Burger were already underway before The Nook and Shamrocks dropped the item.
Jameson’s, located near Annapolis Street West and Smith Avenue South, says it’s standing behind Birk to express appreciation for the years of support he and his family have shown the business, especially during Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 shutdowns.
“A lot of people stopped going to restaurants. That’s when [Birk] shined through and his wife shined through and whatever they could, they helped us out,” said Jameson’s owner and executive chef Brian Rubenzer. “That was my most difficult time, you know? So I appreciate that. So I’d say in his most difficult time I want to do the same for him.”
The restaurant will collaborate with Birk on its new staple burger. They don’t have a final recipe yet, but bacon is a guarantee because, in Birk’s words, “it’s just the perfect complement to hamburger meat.”
Asked what he thinks about The Nook and Shamrocks removing the Birk Burger, Rubenzer said he was shocked.
“I was surprised that would happen to a good friend of theirs after so many years,” said Rubenzer. “To me, that’s not the time to bail out on somebody. It’s the time to rise up and be strong.”
Birk said he’s disappointed by the removal of his burger. He told Alpha News that the item has been on the menu for more than two decades.
“I find it a bit ironic that they’re taking my burger off the menu and Tim Walz is the one that shut those guys down last year and put these ridiculous restrictions on restaurants,” Birk told Alpha News.
Birk noted that Mike Runyon, co-owner of The Nook and Shamrocks, was vocal about the governor’s restaurant shutdowns.
“Everything has to be political. I mean, now hamburgers are political. Did I gain anything from having the burger on the menu?” Birk questioned. “There’s real suffering going on with our world and people have the time to start a petition to change the name of a hamburger on the menu.”
A petition on Change.org asking The Nook to remove the Birk Burger received just 176 signatures. The author of the petition celebrated the removal as a win for “non-sexist burgers.”
Birk said what Rubenzer is doing means a lot to him personally. He believes only a small minority of people are on board with cancel culture.
“Maybe the Matt Birk Burger will be so good that it can bring people from both sides of the aisle together,” he said.
Jameson’s will officially roll out the new burger on Aug. 7. Birk said he will be there to host the event. They will be taking free-will donations for Backing the Blue Line, Birk’s charity of choice.