Plywood People: Will you explain how you dreamed up the idea of the Burger Coalition?
James Martin: Dan and I met up in Birmingham and he mentioned this idea he had where he wanted to get a group of friends together on a consistent basis to hang out and chat over burgers. I loved the idea and asked him if I could do the same thing in Atlanta and go at it concurrently. We then started brainstorming together and the idea evolved to what it is now. We are treating this initiative as a way for us to be really creative and focus on fostering a dialogue with people in our cities.
Dan Gavin: It really just stemmed from my obsession with eating at restaurants and always gravitating towards the burger. I kept thinking it would be great to get together with people and talk about how amazing and simple a burger is and critiquing it. Then I just started to think that it wasn’t really about the burger, but how it was sparking questions and thoughts for people to share. Then after finally meeting James the idea was distilled and made it more about interacting with people you might not know in the community over something as simple as a burger.
Plywood People: Why do you feel this form of collaboration is so valuable and what do you see [or hope to see] coming from these meals?
James: The meals are meant to connect people. We’re both involved in our communities and love food. I mean Dan is a little bit more of a foodie than I am, made evident by his great instagram shots. For me, burgers are a casual meal, supported by the conversation that goes along with them. Growing up, we would always go camping and grill burgers. It elicits a positive reaction and is comfortable, yet varied enough for countless configurations. Bringing people from within our cities that may or may not know each other and setting up a platform for them to interact is really motivating for us. We hope that we make new friends and our new friends make new friends, but beyond that, we just want folks to have a pleasant evening.
Dan: I think this type of project is great because it helps us start to focus on other people and our community and not just ourselves. I would love for the conversations that are had over dinner to help stem ideas and connections that might have never happened before. Much like what happened with James and I finally meeting up.
Plywood People: What cities have you started in, and what caused you to choose those cities?
James and Dan: We have launched in both Atlanta and Birmingham. These are the cities that Dan and I are living, working and exploring in. I think they are great choices because they have an amazing food culture and amazing people.
Plywood People: Are you hoping to expand? And How can people be apart of what you’re doing?
James and Dan: There’s this loose possibility of expansion that we’ve been talking about. We’ve got some awesome friends in the South that would do a remarkable job representing their cities. We want to proceed with our cities to begin with and see how everything goes. Tweak what may need to be tweaked and then consider what’s possible. You can be a part of what we’re doing by checking out our website and signing up for updates or follow us on twitter. Each month, we’ll open up the RSVP for for folks to secure their seat at the month’s restaurant. We look forward to meeting the folks of our city and learning about what they’re up to. We have talked a bit about expanding and if we do, we would love to keep it in the south. We know some great people in other southern cities/states that would be perfect for heading this project.
Plywood People: When is your first meal?
James and Dan: The first is on may 15th, which we’re super excited about and have a couple surprises in store.