If you love heavy metal music and hamburgers, Alhambra was the place to be Saturday, as legions of burger fans, carnivores, and rockers all flocked to Grill ‘Em All, for the restaurant’s three year anniversary celebration of extreme innovative burgers and a passion for heavy metal music. Heavy metal videos, including Iron Maiden and Motorhead were being blasted from the small restaurant on a big screen just at the front entrance. From patio outside in front, people in line could definitely smell the aroma of burgers, bacon, fries, onions and other savory ingredients being cooked inside.
By 5pm the crowd grew to its largest, as hundreds of fans gathered in extraordinary long lines to revel in a party atmosphere, which included black metal face painting, and the staff at Grill ‘Em All offering those over 21 $1 cans of ice cold Busch Beer.
According to owner and Chef Matt Chernus, this year’s special would be the return of the fan favorite Blue Cheer Burger. “This one has blue cheese, cranberry gastric, and our house potato chip,” Chernus told the Weekly. “It was a staple on the food truck and the early restaurant menu and I think old school fans will be happy to crush it again if only for a day.”
But, according to Chernus, the fan favorite and biggest burger at Grill ‘Em All is The Behemoth .”That burger has been the big boy from day one,” he said. “Throwing conventional hamburger buns out the window, we replaced them with two huge grilled cheese sandwiches. In between those mammoth carb and dairy machines is grilled onion, more cheese, two slices of thick cut bacon, four house made pickles, mosh pitt bbq sauce and, of course, our half pound burger patty.”
Chernus said that along with co-owner chef Ryan Harkins and the entire staff at the Alhambra location, Grill ‘Em All is lucky to have been in existence in one spot for three years. But, in regards to the Food truck that launched it all, and originally served these hand crafted, extreme, gourmet burgers, Chernus said it has been sadly laid to rest. “Our last truck, The Son of Beast, was put to rest early in 2015,” he said. “I wish I could say it died in a violent explosion or was subject to a viking funeral but it has probably been repurposed as a gourmet salad truck or something which is hard to stomach.”
Surely, hundreds upon hundreds of beers and amazing burgers were sold throughout the day, as the festivities also included an evening metal DJ Katon DePena, from local old school thrash band Hirax.
DePena said that along with playing with Hirax he is sharing his passion for DJing as well. “I’ve been into this music for going on 40 years now, and it’s something I can give back, since I have such a massive collection,” he said. “I have a lot of vinyl, but most gigs I usually take digital music it’s much easier that way. I love playing this music for fans, it’s a musical history lesson I give. I play all kinds of old school metal, and new bands. Turning people onto new bands, and talking to fans is my way of keeping the legacy of metal alive. I love showing people through bands the history of where metal came from, in all its glory with so many bands.”
As the frontman for Hirax, along with shows for the band, DePena is doing more DJ gigs to share his love of all different types of metal with the fans and meet fellow metal heads. He does sets all over LA, Hollywood, Long Beach and the OC, but has a main gig at the legendary Rainbow Bar and Grill, in West Hollywood.
Speaking of the Rainbow, DePena has recently spawned a movement, to immortalize the recently departed Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmeister, by erecting a statue of him at the bar in his honor. His online campaign and signature petition is gaining momentum. “There are still people showing upon to the Rainbow to pay tribute to Lemmy,” he said. “We had to put things on hold for Lemmy’s funeral, because it was a heavy time for everyone, including those closest to Lemmy,” DePena said.
“The guys in the band will be behind this for sure, and the people at the Rainbow are behind this too, which is key. So next week there will be a big press release about the progress of the statue. It’s just a matter of time before this happens. There have been tons of fans reaching out and donating which is amazing, but the one thing I would like to see is a lot of Lemmy’s close friends to step up and donate to this cause. People like Gene Simmons, Slash, Ozzy, Dave Grohl, if they would all pitch in, we would get this done even faster. But, as I said major news is coming next week.”
Back to the subject of burgers, DePena said that it was his honor to DJ the Grill ‘Em All third anniversary. “Me and the guys from Grill ‘Em All have been in contact for years now,” he said. “I’m proud to be DJ’ing there, and when they contacted me to DJ and play metal and punk music, I couldn’t say no.”
Chernus said that every year they will celebrate an anniversary with fans, as turnout has been a massive success, as was last year. He told the Weekly that for the folks at Grill ‘Em All, things couldn’t be busier, or better. “There is no telling the direction that future Grill ‘Em All locations will go,” he said. “If we eventually get a space with a stage, of course we would want bands to come through a play now and then. But, I don’t know about a full swing music venue, we’re experts in metal and burgers, so we should probably leave the live music venue aspect to the pros.”
Alex Distefano is a freelance writer/music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, food, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories’. He graduated from California State University Long Beach, in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History, and also works in Education, and as an Uber/Lyft driver.