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Iconic Diner Celebrates 60 Years With Premiere of 'Hunter House: The Movie'

'This place is like going home,' says owner of Hunter House Hamburgers, which is turning 60 years old this year.

Birmingham's Hunter House Hamburgers hits the big screen next weekend in honor of the popular burger joint's 60th anniversary.

Hunter House: The Movie premieres at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30, giving burger fans a look into the history of this Birmingham icon.

The diner-style hamburger joint — with burgers lauded throughout Metro Detroit as the best-of-the-best — opened in 1952 and is currently the longest continually-operating restaurant in Birmingham.

Since 1981, the diner has been managed by the same family — Al and Martha Papazian and now their daughter Susan Cobb, who took over full-time in 2005.

Cobb said they've been working on the documentary for more than a year and a half.

"I'm proud to say that with a lot of help from my friends, it is finished and it is a very heartwarming story that we are happy to share with all of you."

In an interview with Patch earlier this year, Cobb said the documentary was the result of a collaboration with Royal Oak resident and recent Lawrence Tech grad, Courtney Wrona, who had the idea of making a birthday documentary for the burger joint last year.

"I ran with it," Cobb told Patch. "Two companies volunteered their time and shot interviews with my dad here and at his home in West Bloomfield a few months ago. We also spoke with Birmingham architect John Loizon, who designed this building for (the) original owner Don Ellenwood."

Cobb said she asked diners and Hunter House fans for old photos of the restaurant and was stunned at the response.

"(We got) families, pictures of little girls coming with grandpas, newlyweds who pulled up in their limo and my mom and dad ran out and served them burgers," she said. "It was just precious."

Making the documentary, Cobb said, also reaffirmed why Hunter House has survived for 60 years and why it continues to be a popular spot for locals, celebrities and foodies alike.

"Everyone feels welcome here," Cobb said. "That's why you'll see a Jaguar parked next to a landscaping truck, with a Cadillac on the other side and kids in a Jeep. ... Our pace and life are so fast these days, and when you come in here you go back to when life was simpler. This place is like going home."

Band starts jamming at 6 p.m., find free cupcakes and popcorn

What's will there be to eat at the premiere? Why, hamburgers of course!

Cobb said the full Hunter House menu will be available, and they also plan on offering free popcorn and birthday cupcakes. The cost to attend the documentary — to be shown at the Hunter House parking lot — is free.

The show kicks off at 6 p.m. with a performance from the Aaron Vaughn Band. The documentary premieres at 7:30 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-serve and attendees are encouraged to dress for the the weather. Free parking will be available at the Park Street Parking Structure, one block to the north.

DVDs of the documentary will also be on sale at the premiere; all proceeds will go to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Racer Boy October 01, 2012 at 02:06 PM
I first ate at the Hunter House in November of 1954. I miss Al and Martha...they not only owned it, they worked there, as did the previous owners. It seems nicer when the owner actually has a presence...there is a real connection and that is what helped make it great. Still LOVE the joint, though!!! Happy Birthday HH!!!

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