Well this post is about eight years in the making, am I right?
I mean, I’ll be totally honest, I had never heard of Swenson’s until I moved to this area in 2012. While Akronites pull themselves up from their fainting out of shock at that statement, let me remind you that while I’m a northeast Ohio native, I’ve also spent far more time in downtown Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs over the course of my life than in the areas surrounding Akron. And until the recent addition of University Hts to the location roster, Swenson’s branding didn’t extend much out of the 330-geographical area.
But then once you move to this area, it’s like an unspoken expectation that you have about a six month window to try the place before you start getting looks of blatant disapproval when your answer to the inevitable “so, how lucky are you to live that close to Swenson’s, right?” is a non-commital shrug and “oh, I haven’t been there yet.”
They really need to create a handbook for these things.
And it’s not as if we haven’t intended to go. It’s more that, well, while it is a locally based chain, we honestly don’t live super close to the nearest location in our area. And we also don’t do a lot of true fast food style takeout food in our household (think: McDonald’s or Wendy’s) and so are more likely to think of actual sit-down restaurants to order takeout from than a drive-thru. Or, in this case, a drive-in.
But after an afternoon of last minute holiday gift pickup and errand running, we found ourselves in the area, getting hungry for dinner, and not wanting to have to prepare something when we got home. Win/win.
So, OK, I’ll also admit that a deterrent for me in initially stopping at Swenson’s was also … well … what the hell is a drive-in restaurant, anyway? I mean, I get the concept from back in the 1950s. But it’s 2020, so how does that translate now in relation to a drive-thru? Where’s the menu? How do they know when to come to your car? Is this a cash only system, or are cards accepted?
Clearly, I had a lot of questions. And was never super keen on just pulling up to a busy place to “see how it works” without a little bit clearer perspective.
As it turns out, you can now order online and just pull up to pick up your order, which is totally how we’ll be doing this in the future. For the meantime, though, we pulled in and were immediately greeted by a young man, who after expressing his astonishment that we had never been there before (YES, WE GET IT ALREADY), provided us with a paper menu, and quickly gave us the run down on how our headlights could be used as signaling devices. Well, that’s easy then.
It did seem to take more than a hot minute to receive our orders – after a very quick signaling of an order taker and placing said order – but there were also a lot of people pulling in to grab online orders, so now that we’re privy to that little trick we’ll certainly keep that in our back pockets. Because two hungry people in a car with nothing to do but watch other people get orders delivered to them is not exactly the most stable environment to find oneself in. I think the runners might’ve been keeping a wide berth from our car until they were headed our way with our orders in hand.
After a healthy debate over just how many patties was too many to have on one singular sandwich, Shane ordered the double cheeseburger. Or, actually, the “double cheeseburg” – as for whatever reason it seems Swenson’s has an aversion to the final “er” on any of their burgers. Um, OK. Seems an odd thing to throw an abbreviation out into the world for, but whatevs. You do you, Swenson’s.
Anyway, Shane was highly intrigued by the triple galley boy burger, which someone had posted recently on social media and claimed to be a “non-menu-you-have-to-special-ask-for-it” order – so of course that makes it that much better, right? But then he thought that maybe six patties on one burger – even if they are only somewhat thicker than a DVD each – may be just a tad overkill.
I mean, I’m not saying it’s totally ruled out for future orders. But he thought to maybe go a bit easy on things for the first visit anyway.
He did also add bacon and hot peppers to the sandwich, though. Condiments > extra meat patties, I guess.
I opted for the regular galley boy. For those who aren’t aware (which would be me prior to this little excursion), the Galley Boy is Swenson’s regular double “cheeseburg” with two special sauces added on. So essentially Shane and I got the same sandwich – because I also added bacon and hot peppers to mine like he did – but my “burg” came with special sauce and a signature olive speared into the top of the bun. Noted.
We also each ordered a side of onion rings.
And I could not pass up the chance to mix up some flavors and make my own milkshake, even if my lactose unloving stomach was quite unhappy about it later. I mixed mocha and mint, which earned me an emphatic “ooh, good choices” from our order taker, so I felt rather proud of myself for a moment.
OK, OK, we admit that we kinda “get” the hoopla now. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality, taste and overall experience of our spontaneous Swenson’s adventure – and also pretty much kicking ourselves for taking so long to check this off of our Akron area to-do list. Our entire spread was about $23, which made it super affordable for the quality of what we ordered, and we were happy with what that $23 delivered.
I hereby take back every non-commital shrug over the past eight years, and extend my apologies to those I’ve written off as being a little overzealous about their fast food hype.
But I do think that I’ll avoid the galley boy on the next visit, since the special sauces were not, in my own humble opinion, all that special. I’ll likely go with one of the -er cheeseburgers. But the hot peppers were a definite sell, I’ll be sure to include those the next time around.
That being said, Shane admitted he would like to try the sauces I’ve deemed not so special. So really what it boils down to that we’ll just switch orders next time around.
Consider that a head’s up for when you see another post on here and it looks … well, exactly the same as this one.
Also, lactose unhappiness was a small price to pay for that delicious milkshake. If you haven’t put those flavors together yet, I highly recommend doing so. And if you’re like the old us and have yet to visit Swenson’s at all – well, make sure you don’t gloss over the milkshake list once you do. I guess this was the universe’s – or maybe my liver’s – gentle reminder that even when they don’t contain alcohol they can still be tasty. Huh.
So while I can’t say that I will become one of those on the asking side of the “so what do you think of Swenson’s” conversation, I will say that at least now I can honestly say that we’ll be repeat customers … at least when we’re on that side of town and need an option for good take home shakes and “burgs.” Well done, Swenson’s.