GTPulse: 2019 – The Year of Glendale Ave.
Glendale Ave. has had a hell of a year. The sky blue food truck speckled with cartoon burgers, eggs, bacon and chicken wings spent its first summer in Traverse City as a fixture at The Little Fleet, but Glendale got its legs before the truck was in the picture. Brendon and Brittney McCabe have put in years of hard work and it all came to be in 2019.
I haven’t had a Glendale burger, which should be a crime considering that I’ve heard so many people talk about how wonderful they are. Even if I didn’t believe any of the raving burger fans I personally know, national cooking magazine Taste of Home declared Glendale Ave’s burger the best burger in Michigan.
“I like a thin burger. I think it’s the char and the crispiness of the edges,” Brittney said.
I know exactly what she’s talking about. I have plenty of unpleasant burger memories from cookouts and summer lunches. A burger patty that’s almost three inches tall is annoying to eat at best, and a mess at worst. Toppings and condiments slide out one end, and who’s mouth are burgers that big supposed to accommodate? Thinner, smash burgers are the answer to patty sliding and Glendale has them perfected. Like any new venture, there was trial and error. A post on the Glendale Ave. Instagram account talked about the glow-up from the first burger they made over two years ago to the burgers they make now.
Brittney and Brendon are a love story as old as time. The two met while on spring break in Panama City. Instead of concerning herself with keg stands and fake ids, Brittney was wandering around wondering what had happened on that night’s episode of The O.C.
“My friend had wanted to go out and I ended up missing an episode of The O.C. I was pissed. I’m like, ‘who watched it?’ He had watched it,” Brittney said.
“I was just some random guy on the beach. I had stayed in with my older sisters before the party to watch the episode. She overheard me telling people about it.”
The two were on a joint trip from their high schools in Saginaw, Michigan. They returned home and stayed together throughout high school where they had a teen romance filled with school dances, football game dates and AOL instant messenger.
They both attended Western Michigan University where Brendon studied small business management and Brittney studied childcare development. When they graduated Brittney knew that she wanted them to move to Traverse City. She had visited as a child and had a strong nostalgic connection to the area. They moved in at three in the morning, dug through the moving truck to pull out their mattress and dragged it onto their new living room floor where they slept with their dog before Brendon had to be up and at his new job at Folgarelli’s six hours later.
Brittney took a job in the baking department at Cherry Republic before ending up working as a nanny.
Over the years Brendon moved up at Folgarelli’s and ended up doing events for them like tastings and pairings at other local businesses. At the time The Little Fleet had a LTO (Limited Time Only) space. The tiny food truck was there through the winter and offered a space for new chefs to serve their food.
“A lot of people got their start there and there. That’s how White On Rice started, Happy’s did a fried chicken thing. Before Andrea did Raduno she did something called Snap there. It was the first-ever pop-up I knew of,” Brendon said.
In-house streetfood Milkweed wasn’t yet at The Little Fleet, so the LTO truck was the only food people could get during the offseason. Brendon was inspired and took over LTO for a week doing a tapas takeover through Folgarelli’s.
“It went really well and that’s how we became friends with The Little Fleet staff.”
The union between the couple and The Little Fleet came before the union between them. Shortly after the pop-up experience, Brendon proposed to Brittney. The two got married at the City Opera House and had their reception at Fleet.
Brendon had been playing around with making bread and after making some he really liked he was inspired to make a really good breakfast sandwich with it. He made a sandwich for Gary Jonas, co-owner The Little Fleet, and asked if he could make them at LTO.
“The first event sold out in two hours,” Brendon said.
He had promoted the event through Instagram the month before. Brittney and Brendon came up with the name Glendale Ave, after the street Brendon grew up on in Saginaw. The couple also pays homage to their hometown by naming different menu items after pieces of Saginaw culture. The pop-up brunches were so popular that they became a regular Sunday event.
“It was a little side hustle,” Brendon said.
They weren’t saving for anything in particular, but when Gary Jonas asked if they would be interested in becoming a part of The Little Fleet family, Brendon and Brittney went all in. Those weekly Sunday brunches had turned into weekly Saturday and Sunday. Glendale Ave knew how to draw a crowd.
“Everything changed,” Brendon said.
“The manicness of looking for a truck every day, the pressure of where are we getting it from? How big is it going to be? We bought it February of this year. That’s how fast this all happened. I can’t believe that was this year,” Brittney said.
Glendale Ave survived and thrived another summer at The Little Fleet this year but in their own truck and kitchen. They’ve come a long way in a short time. What started as weekend brunches turned into summers full of burgers, fries and chicken that people literally can’t get enough of. With a renowned burger under their belt, a brand new truck and a community that loves them, Glendale Ave is a piece of sky blue heaven. I can’t wait until summer to (finally) try some of their food, and I don’t have to. They’re going back to their roots and hosting a pop-up brunch this January on the 18th and 19th, and again on the 25th and 26th at The Little Fleet. For old times sake.