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          Front Page  biz

Crowds Pack Original Blake's for Birthday Giveaway

By Rivkela Brodsky
Journal Staff Writer
          Thousands waited in line Friday to get a free original Blake's Lotaburger Combo — a burger, bag of chips and a drink — at the original location just south of Washington and Menaul NE as part of the chain's 58th birthday celebration.
        That intersection is where the end of the line stayed steady for more than an hour around lunchtime, wrapping down the street from the front of the Blake's at 2529 Washington NE.
        Side streets were packed with parked cars and traffic moved slowly through the area. The location, which typically has three or four employees, had 25 on Friday manning the grill, handing out food, working the catering truck/VIP area and directing drivers seeking a parking spot.
        Even though it was jam-packed and busy, the line moved fast and the average wait was about an hour, several patient patrons told the Journal.
        DiDi Sena came with two grandchildren, Gregory and Christian Gutierrez, and her son, Adam Sena Sr., his girlfriend, Danielle Phillips, and their two kids, Adam Jr. and Angelina Sena. They waited 56 minutes.
        "(The kids) were hungry. It was time to eat," DiDi Sena said, her hand full of sodas and a Blake's bag with a burger inside. "It's a nice free lunch. It was this or go to the park or stay home and feed them.
        "It was worth it," DiDi Sena said about the wait. "You don't do this every day."
        G. Blake Chanslor opened the first Blake's with his wife, June, in 1952. A Lotaburger and bag of chips cost 35 cents then. Chanslor sold the local burger chain in 2003 to father and son Ronald C. and Brian Rule.
        About 3,000 free "retro" meals were expected to be served by the time the promotion ended at 4 p.m., said LeeAnn Ziemann, director of marketing for the chain.

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