Travel Channel hunts Union's best burgers

Mar. 14, 2013 @ 03:53 PM

The Travel Channel put the spotlight on Duke's Grill Thursday as a crew worked to film the restaurant and its customers for an upcoming show.

Thursday morning, a Travel Chennel production crew and "Made In America" host George Motz could be seen talking with business' owners and setting up equipment.

As the day progressed, the crew got more into filming the segment, especially during lunchtime when local residents began piling into the business.

"I think it's good," Tim Mitchell said.

He's a regular at Duke's Grill and is happy to see the business gain attention from the Travel Channel.

"It's (Duke's Grill) a landmark in Union County and Monroe, they have the best hamburgers around," he said.

He was not certain whether he got on camera while visiting the restaurant Thursday afternoon, but said the crew did some panning around the restaurant with the camera so it was a possibility, Mitchell said.

Duke's Grill has been around since 1951. It was previously located in the Five Points area of Monroe before moving to its current location at 1114 Concord Avenue, Monroe, Dennis Parker, who owns the business with his wife, Jerrie Parker, said.

His uncle, nicknamed Duke, started the business and later passed it on to him. His family still works in and operates the business and plans are to eventually pass it onto his son, Dennis said.

"For the most part everything's the same," he said in reference to the business now when compared to how it was in the 1950s. 

One difference was that the restaurant no longer offers curb-side service, which it has in the past.

Having the Travel Channel there Thursday was exciting, he said.

"We're excited, a little nervous because we're small town, but it's exciting and humbling," he said.

Jecelyn Parker, the couple's daughter, also works at the business. She said she was happy for the film crew to be there and that she was glad to see her father and the business being recognized. She has worked at her family's restaurant since she was a teenager and enjoys being there and always has a lot of fun, she said.

"We're a lot alike so it works out well," she said.

According to the Travel Channel website, George Motz, is an Emmy award-winning freelance filmmaker and photographer based in New York City. In 2005 he completed Hamburger America, which he shot, produced, edited and directed. The film was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award and won the audience award at the 2009 Modesto Real Food Film Festival. The success of the film led to a state-by-state guide to hamburgers, which was also titled Hamburger America.

According to the network's website, for Burger Land, Motz travels the U.S. to sample the country's best burgers. Duke's was just the latest in his trek.

"It's about time," Duke's Grill regular James Johnson said.

He and his wife live in Pageland, S. C. but stop by Duke's Grill while in town. Generations of their family have eaten at the restaurant and he's glad to see it gaining attention from the network. 

"It's the best hamburger you can get in the Carolinas," Johnson said in reference to his favorite food at Duke's Grill.

Duke's Grill offers both dine-in and take-out options. For more information call 704-283-4960.

For more information about the Travel Channel visit www.travelchannel.com.