Citing an unprecedented undersupply of hamburgers in the Hamptons, last week the Hamptons Town Board imposed the Emergency Hamburger Mandate (EHM) for the first time. The EHM, enacted in 2004 but never put into effect, gives broad authority to governmental bodies to mandate the production of hamburgers by commercial eateries that would not ordinarily produce such fare.
Hamptons Town Board President James Cooley explains the Board’s action: “We have to admit we were somewhat blindsided at the end of the summer, when the Burger King in Southampton closed for a rebuilding project. Who saw that coming? Then that was followed by the surprise closure of Bay Burger in Sag Harbor.
At our last meeting we started doing the math and realized that we were looking at the loss of a significant percentage of our local burger production capacity.” Cooley acknowledges that a fair number of burger-centric eateries are continuing to operate, but he notes that the Board needed to think on the macro level. “Come some Tuesday night in the off-season, a couple of these places might decide to take the night off, and then where would we be, burger-wise?”
The Emergency Hamburger Mandate allows the Board to require non-burger restaurants—pizzerias, Mexican restaurants, sushi joints and others—to sell hamburgers to customers upon request. On Tuesday, according to Cooley, official letters were sent to all restaurants in the area announcing the Mandate and explaining to the restaurants what is required of them. “The only restaurants that we exempted are Chinese takeout places—you can’t really cook a hamburger in a wok, as far as I know.”
The Mandate stipulates that compliance will be enforced by the Hamptons Police, who will have the power to issue citations if they find a restaurant that is not prepared to furnish a hamburger within 15 minutes of one being ordered.
The Hamptons Police, for their part, are ready for their new duties. “Our officers have been fully briefed on the situation,” says Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch. “Restaurants can expect that we will be running undercover spot checks for compliance by this weekend. We mean business on this.”
Meanwhile, a citizens’ group has sprung up in the wake of the imposition of the Mandate to demand that similar action be taken with regards to fries. “If they can force a pizzeria to cook me a hamburger, you’d think they could get them to do some fries,” says Don Pritzger, a spokesman for the group. “It’s a classic combination! I’ve never had one without the other.” In response, the Town Board has promised to take up a Fry Mandate at their next meeting.