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Michael Hardin, owner of Hodad’s, a San Diego-based burger restaurant, spent the day at Littleton Chow Hall making burgers his way, May 7, 2013.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

Hodad’s serves those who serve

17 May 2013 | Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

Staff from Hodad’s restaurant, a burger joint based in Ocean City, Calif., and Combat Center food services fired up the grills at the Combat Center mess halls Tuesday. The staffs teamed up to serve burgers to Combat Center personnel for lunch and dinner.

They served lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Littleton Mess Hall. They also served dinner from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Phelps Mess Hall.

“I have been the boss man of the restaurant since about 1984,”said Michael Hardin, owner of Hodad’s. “My employees make me look like a rockstar and when I get to bring my guys out to something like this, it is enormous. One of my biggest passions is to serve the people who serve our country.”

Hodad’s frequently travels to military bases to cook for service members. This is the second year Hodad’s has come aboard the Combat Center to serve. Combat Center personnel lined the mess hall eagerly anticipating the burgers known as the best on the West Coast.

Hodad’s burgers have been recognized by CNN as one of the nation’s top five burger joints. It was the only West Coast restaurant recognized. They were also recognized by the Travel Channel and the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

“My burgers have been the same since I started my position as the boss man of the restaurant,” Hardin said. “I remember my parents would like to make smaller burgers and I would have to be sneaky and make big ones for my friends. They haven’t changed ever since and we plan on serving great burgers like we always have.”

The restaurant opened in 1969. The word ‘Hodad’ is a ’60s term for a surfer who is always out on the beach. Their first location was on the beach at the end of Santa Monica Ave. in Ocean Beach. In 1991, after several moves, Hodad’s opened at its present location on Ocean Beach’s Newport Ave. In 2011, they opened their second location at 10th & Broadway in downtown San Diego and in 2012 they opened a seasonal spot inside Petco Park for fans of the San Diego Padres.

According to Hardin, if he is not in one of the restaurants, he is out trying to make people happy by feeding them.

“Their burgers are off the hook and we are happy to have them here,” said Eric Cameron, general manager, Littleton Mess Hall. “They give us a chance to step away from the rules and regulations of the mess halls and mix it up a little bit. Marines love when we add some extra flavor to the menu.”

Hardin and the employees plan to continue serving service members around the nation and overseas.

“Coming out to see what the military really does on a day-to-day basis really opens my eyes,” Hardin said. “After seeing what they go through I can really kiss the ground I live on and be fortunate for what I have. It is a huge reward for me to serve our military because saying thank you to our service members just isn’t enough, it is an understatement.”
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