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Hamburger Hollow closes doors after 45 years

The interior of Hamburger Hollow, located on Big Pine Lake. Photos by Ashley Bergen/FOCUS1 / 2
Owners Steve and Joni Putnam will be closing Hamburger Hollow on October 23. Steve has owned 45-year-old business since 2002.2 / 2

A great burger is hard to find.

What's even more rare is a cozy place where families can come together to enjoy that great burger made with extra special care... and the lakeside view doesn't hurt either.

For the past 45 years, Hamburger Hollow, located on Big Pine Lake in New York Mills, was just that place. Now, the lakeside staple for many area residents and tourists alike will be closing its doors on Saturday, October 23.

Steve Putnam has owned the restaurant, which was built by John Anderson, since 2002. He married wife Joni about a year-and-a-half ago, and in that time the team has struggled to keep the business open.

"We've been really trying since spring," Steve says, "But we couldn't dig out of winter like we normally could."

The past few years have been especially difficult, the Putnam's say, with no money to advertise, they have to rely on word of mouth and lake traffic to garner new business.

Steve also has extreme pain from a bad accident several years ago, pain that is also a factor in why he is closing up shop.

Luckily, they say, they have a steady group of local regulars that have been there along the way, supporting them. Both say they dread saying goodbye.

"I've never met kinder people than I have here," Joni says. "We've watched babies, children grow up. It's just the friends. The people here we'll miss the most."

She pauses.

"We'll miss the burgers too," Joni says.

"Yep, you'll never eat at a McDonalds again after you taste one," Steve chimes in.

The Hollow is known for Steve's "super burgers," Joni's malts, cheese curds, and mushroom and swiss burgers the couple says, "will cost you" to get the recipe for.

Joni teases Steve about how much love he puts into his burgers.

"If any charcoal gets on that burger, it won't go out. He'll start over," she says.

He quickly replies.

"It takes away from the whole flavor of the beef."

He also strategically places toppings on the burgers; he says comes from his background in machinery.

"It's either right or it's not," he tells his wife.

As for the Putnam's next step, and the future of the property, the couple is now meeting with realtors in hope of selling the restaurant. They will be moving to Superior, Wis. after closing and wish to thank their countless patrons and friends who have helped them along the way. Steve and Joni would also like to thank by name those who have supported them over the past eight years including: John, Kitty, Gary, Nellie, Dan, Gordy, Geri, Mike, Jan and family, Theresa, Betsy, Steve, Sandy, Russ and family, Clint, Joni, Clarence, Lucille, Dean, Tiffany, all the people who donated wood, and their parents and children. They ask to be forgiven for anyone they may have forgotten.

They also invite their friends and customers, both regulars and those who have never tried one of Steve's burgers out to the restaurant before the doors close. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m., closed Tuesdays. Hamburger Hollow is located at 43077 County Highway 53 along Big Pine Lake.