'The Big Yaz Burger' Sets The Bar Higher For Ohio's Vend Food

July 14, 2010
We Ohioans have a long history with our burgers. It is an area in which we fancy ourselves as leaders.
We Ohioans have a long history with our burgers. It is an area in which we fancy ourselves as leaders. Before we had the Big Mac, there was the White Castle Slider, whose fame quickly expanded beyond the Buckeye state. Then came Wendys square burger. Dave Thomas generously shared it beyond our borders. Then came Pierres Big AZ burger, which, while born in Ohio, was always intended for nationwide consumption.But none of them have anything on the Big Yaz, burger, which remains an Ohio phenomenon.The Big Yaz burger is a concoction of Firelands Food Systems in Sandusky, Ohio. Six ounces of barbecued hamburger covered with bacon strips and pepper cheese. It has been a favorite among the companys customers for six years.Company owner Steve Hall, Sr. has always worked hard to distinguish his food program among his heavily industrial customers. In search of a new and better burger, he tapped his associates colleagues, employees and suppliers for suggestions. One person whose opinion he knew he could trust in matters of taste was Bobby Yasinow of Vendors Exchange International Inc.When Yasinow told him what makes a good burger, Hall knew he had a winner. Thus was born the Big Yaz BBQ Bacon Burger.This creativity on Halls part is one of the reasons he has succeeded over the years. He continues to grow in a region that has been hammered by the recession. He has been a leader on the technology front from the very beginning. He was one of the first operators in the country to use glassfront beverage machines, and he has been a pioneer in cashless vending.But one of his most important attributes is in recognizing the importance food plays in vending. As Ive stated before, technology offers our industry a lot of promise, but if we cannot restore the food portion to its former prominence, we will continue to lose relevance in the consumers eyes.As for future plans, Hall is playing it close to the vest with the Big Yaz Burger. Only Firelands Food Systems customers can get it. Marketing the product beyond his existing customer base might make Hall wealthier, but it would compromise the privilege of being a Firelands customer, and thats the last thing Hall wants to do. Which is all fine and good. But I, for one, think the packaging doesnt give the burger its due. I think most customers would agree that to do justice to the epicurean experience of Big Yaz, the packaging could be a little more exciting. Considering what personalities can do for a brand, I suggested a picture of Bobby Yasinow, with full smile. Hall remains unconvinced.What say the rest of you? Steve Hall, Sr., left, of Firelands Food Systems in Sandusky, Ohio, serves a Big Yaz BBQ Bacon Burger to Bobby Yasinow of Vendors Exchange International Inc