The Counter

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The Counter is a chain of hamburger restaurants based in California, and franchise opportunities, of course, are available.  There is exactly one location in Georgia, and that is in Roswell. counter

For me, The Counter has been one of those elusive restaurants common to people who drive a lot.  abacusIf you’re just passing by, you see it, but, if you’re looking for it, you can’t find it.

They advertise 312,120+ possible combinations of hamburgers.  That’s great, because I (years ago) used to really love math.  First grade math with an abacus… loved it.  Going through the grocery store with Clicker Counter my mom’s clicker counter, kind of fun.

It’s not like we’re unaccustomed to burgers and math.  Remember McDonalds when they listed how many millions were served?  So, it’s not completely unique, but not common for math and food to collide.  My daughter, a counter par-excellence nicknamed “T-Rex” at mealtimes, would no doubt enjoy the combinations found at this particular restaurant.  I could put her to the problem at hand:  Are there truly 312,120+ combinations? 

 \binom nk = \frac{n!}{k!(n-k)!},

The idea is that the number of combinations equals… well, n = the number of things to choose from and k = the number of things chosen.  The added difficulty is that this simple combination formula is not up to the task.  The “problem” here is that you’re not necessarily limited to a fixed number of items (k is itself a variable depending on how many items you want on your burger), so the formula would have to be used to calculate each number of ingredients and then added all together.  Not impossible, just… well, beyond my patience to search for it on Google.  And, the point here is certainly not to make your head spin.

Well, let’s see what we have to work with.

Counter Selection

Maybe you can read that; maybe you can’t.  But it’s the “build you own burger” form.   For those that want to go find the more evolved forumlas and do a proof:  Here’s a summary from the order sheet.

  • 5 meats
  • 3 sizes
  • 6 – “substrate” - on a bun (4 types) or in a bowl (2 types of lettuce)
  • 12 types of cheese
  • 21 toppings
  • 9 premium toppings
  • 21 sauces

That equals 77 items in your mathematical set.  Some are exclusive within their category (you would choose only one type of bun) and some are inclusive (as many premium toppings for which you are willing to pay). And putting mathematics aside, it all adds up to a fair number of good reasons to try The Counter.  And, as such, my office group ventured at lunch to that place that was kind over that way, “out of the box” geographically from our self-imposed 5 minute radius.


We arrived a little late for lunch.  We were all rather intrigued by the possibilities listed on the selection sheet, and, as one might expect and hope, our choices varied.

So, we ordered.  And we waited.  And we waited some more.  But we weren’t complaining.  Not at all.  We saw the unfortunate lady at the next table have a tray of sodas spilled into her lap.  And back.  And everywhere else.  We were nice.  Polite.  And, eventually, the food arrived.

Counter Burger

Looks pretty darn good.  Lettuce, pineapple, roasted red peppers, pickles, Russian dressing, jalapeno jack cheese… oh yeah, and a 1/3 lb. burger on a honey wheat bun.  Hey, you can’t get that everywhere. 

And the review?  Well, can you blame someone for making a burger exactly the way you ordered it?  In this case, no arguments.  It was certainly a different blend of flavors, and a solid choice.  But, there’s also Part B to any hamburger evaluation, one that is usually only mentioned when it excels beyond normal expectations or is otherwise a dud.

The fries.

I’m not a member of any group closely affiliated with “thin fries.”  You want thin fries?  Go to Steak n’ Shake.  Are you supposed to eat them one at a time?  Have you got all day? They’re not even large enough to capture the required ratio of ketchup (10% by weight and 25% by area is my preference).  And what about heat transfer?  The greater the exposed surface area, the faster they lose the heat.  You can’t argue with thermodynamics, and you can’t enjoy a cold French fry, which is what you get if you don’t eat them first.  And why should you be forced to eat your fries first when you came for a great burger?  See?  Thin fries, in keeping with our mathematical theme, don’t add up.

Give me those whoppin’ steak potatoes anytime.  Or the ridged ones at Zaxby’s.  Thin ones? Fail. 

Overall, it was a good experience, but one that didn’t win us over.  The service was slow, the ambience was noisy, the burger was great, the fries were duds, and the price ~ with tags, tax and title, will keep this on the “something different for out of town guests” list.  Count on it.

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