New fast food joint comes to Iqaluit

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Oct 25/99) - As your gaze moves around the jam-packed burger joint, you see dozens of your friends and neighbours cramming that last onion-loaded bite of burger into their mouths before wiping the remnants of special sauce off their chins.

You know you have arrived.

And you know that at long last the fast food you've been craving has made its way into Nunavut's capital.

Oh yes, burger aficionados. Mean Gene Burger's swung its doors wide on Wednesday morning and it's been a madhouse since.

"It's been crazy, very busy," said Kelly Crisman, a training specialist for Orion Food Systems, the company that owns Mean Gene's Burgers.

"Opening day we had 500 people in here."

Operating since 1997, the chain, located in Iqaluit's Northern Store, uses World Wrestling Federation personality Mean Gene as their gimmick, their front-runner.

And hang on to your buns, Iqalummiut, the WWF emcee is coming to town for the big launch.

"He'll be here for the grand opening and he signs autographs. It's a lot of fun," said Crisman, normally a resident of Arkansas who was sent to Baffin Island for a few weeks to train local people to do the job.

But smoke, mirrors and wrestlers aside, can Mean Gene's burgers cut the mustard?

"It's just like down south," said Carole Bourgeois, between bites of her cheeseburger.

"This town needs more fast food and I think I'll come here a lot. I'll come for groceries and stop to have a bite to eat."

Serving hundreds of Iqaluit resident's favourites each day -- bacon cheeseburgers and crispy chicken sandwiches so far -- Crisman said the establishment also gets a fair number of students who drop by for pop and fries.

Downing an orange slush, Kootoo Kilabuk said he was happy with the addition to the capital's business sector and his pal Paul Kopalie thought the place was cool.

"I had a chicken burger and a Sprite. It was good. This place has everything."

Joining his buddies, Nuqinga Nakashook also stopped by on his way to work.

"I've been busy working, but I'll come here if I ever get a day off."