This story is part of Tri-Cities Best, a viewer-driven segment of News Channel 11’s community coverage. Your votes placed Pal’s Sudden Service as the Tri-Cities’ Best Burger, among several competitors:

  • Clinchfield Sub Station
  • Mid City Grill
  • J’s Corner

Nominees stand out from the many small businesses that make the Tri-Cities home, and your votes are an honor for each.

(WJHL) – When it comes to Tri-Cities staples, few can claim they’re more closely tied to the local identity than Pal’s Sudden Service. From the iconic stairway of food that sets its buildings apart to the rapid turnaround time that it takes its namesake from, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a comparable establishment in any other region.

So much so that Pal’s “Big Pal” burger was voted the best in the Tri-Cities, against some stiff competition. So, what is it that caught them the spot?

“Pal’s has invested an enormous amount of time in their process,” spokesperson Teresa Treadway said when asked what set the dish apart. “You may have someone that their job is just to build a Big Pal and that’s it, or maybe it’s a Junior Burger and that’s it. So their process is just to build that burger for them. And that’s how they keep everything fresh, hot, made to order and out the window quickly.”

Treadway said the biggest part of Pal’s appeal is how their products become a part of life, something connected to powerful memories in the area.

“Think about all the experiences that you have in a car, number one, when you’re driving through,” Treadway said. “You’re taking your children, you’re going to a soccer game, you’re on your way to another event. All of those create memories for everyone.”

When those memories can be backed up with a burger that’s just as fresh as the first time you bought one, it’s easy to see how it can bring you right back. Treadway said her favorite stories are those of Tri-Cities natives that return after time away just to come running back to the familiar flavors of home.

“The first thing they do when they come back is Pal’s as a first stop,” Treadway said. “I think that that’s what creates those memories too, is when you can’t have it but then you want it so bad.”

A 100% beef patty stands as the Big Pal’s foundation, with a 5-inch bun holding in freshly-sliced lettuce, tomato and onion. A dash of mayo makes the whole affair complete, and then it’s wrapped and ready to go faster than you would believe. At every step of the process, speed and precision are the name of the game.

“If I had to say anything about Pal’s, [it] is that they continuously strive for improvement, and they strive to provide their customers with the best quality product at the best quality price,” Treadway said. “They don’t settle for just the sub-par. They want to make sure that they have the freshest quality produce, that they have a good quality burger, their buns are always fresh.

“You know when you to go Pal’s you get what you pay for; it’s a good quality meal, and you know that it’s going to be hot and fresh and ready to go.”