George Webb’s gears up for big giveaway

Our payoff from Brewers’ 12-game win streak comes Thursday

How do you feed 200,000 people?

It is a question that George Webb Vice President Ryan Stamm started planning for on Oct. as the Brewers picked up their 10th win of what would be 12-game winning streak, unlocking the longstanding George Webb promotion to give away free hamburgers should the Brewers win 12 in a row.

“It’s a lot of planning,“ Stamm said. “It’s not just the burger; it is making sure we have enough buns, enough ketchup, enough onions, enough pickles ‘cause if it were just burger, patty and bun that would be one thing, but it is kind of everything that goes along with it.

“We had a standing order with our hamburger supplier on Friday, so basically as soon as the Brewers won that 12th game on Friday night they began to run the product for us right away Friday night. Our supplier is local. They are in Kenosha, so it is easy to have a good relationship with them to do that.”

Stamm can thank George Webb, the founder of the restaurant chain, for the chaos of having to pull off this giveaway. In 1957, Webb predicted that the Milwaukee Braves would win 13 games in a row and announced he’d feed Milwaukee free hamburgers if they did so. After the Braves left and the Brewers came to Milwaukee, the company decided to reinstate the promotion, but this time settling on 12 games.

“A 12-game winning streak [in baseball] is hard. You basically have to sweep three or four teams in a row to get there,” Stamm points out. “You want to make it a number that is high enough that makes it special, but 12 is the magic number, I guess.”

Of course, this is not the first time the Brewers have helped feed the City of Milwaukee. In 1987, the Brew Crew won their first 13 games to engage the giveaway. At the time Shelly Engelman was a teenager, working as a server at the George Webb’s on 61st Street and Appleton Avenue in Milwaukee. On Thursday, Engelman will once again be participating in free burger day, but this time as George Webb’s district manager.

“I was just a kid, so I just remember standing there giving out burgers, I didn’t have to worry about everyone being on the same page and organized. I just walked in and started giving away burgers,” Engelman recalls. “This time around I have to make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do and get everything together and make sure everyone is on the same page. … It is fun chaos and that is the only way I can describe it.”

Approximately 180,000 hamburgers were given out in 1987. This year with all of the excitement surrounding the Brewer’s playoff push, George Webb is expecting 200,000 people.

“As long as the grill is going and the burger is cooking it will be just fine,” Engelman said, laughing.
During the promotion from 2-6 p.m. Thursday, you get one free hamburger, and you can purchase an additional one for $1.00 or a cheeseburger for $1.50. There will also be fries and soda available for $1.00.

“It is going to be chaotic,” Engelman said. “It is going to be fun at the same time. People are going to be talking about the Brewers, saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again.’ For all we know we could be doing this again next year.”