Popular burger joint turns lemons into “Burger-ade,” donates to charity after break-in

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) You’ve heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” A popular burger joint took that adage to heart after intruders broke in and left a mess.

Instead of closing for the day, the Hi-Pointe Drive-In in Richmond Heights saw the incident as an opening to do some good.

“We turn lemons into what we call, Burger-ade,” owner Mike Johnson said.

Johnson, also a co-owner of SugarFire Smokehouse, is familiar with the challenges of operating a small business. But he was taken by surprise when he discovered that his newest venture, the Hi Pointe- Drive-In on McCausland, was broken into on a recent Sunday morning.

“We walked in and there was a cash register on the ground, and it was all smashed up. I went out front, and sure enough, somebody threw a brick through [the front door].”

Armed with a positive attitude and a sense of humor, Johnson immediately had the front door replaced and came up with the idea for a new “Smash & Grab Burger.”

“We smash and you grab it,” he explained.

The new menu item was a hit, as was the display outside the front door. He wrote a message on the same brick that was used to break into the restaurant.

“We wrote on there, ‘Please don’t toss through the window,’” he said.

But perhaps the biggest response to the “Hamburglars” (Johnson’s description), was the drive-in’s decision to give back.

As in, give back to the community.

“The guys that did it look kind of like young kids,” he said. “We called a friend of ours, and said, ‘Do you know of a charity that we could raise money for kids? And they said, ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters.’”

The broken-in burger joint gave five percent of its proceeds that day to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri – a shock to the non-profit’s president and CEO. Becky Hatter said she wasn’t aware of the promotion until a colleague called her.

“And I’m like, ‘What?’ And they’re like, ‘Go look on social media.’”

Overwhelmed, Hatter said she immediately drove to the drive-in. Since the Hi-Pointe Drive-In was giving to her, she decided to give, as well, she said.

“I said I’m going to buy 29 Smash and Grab Burgers for the next 29 customers. So, it just became fun,” she said.

In total, $750 went to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The story went viral, with several positive comments directed at the Hi-Pointe staff.

“This is so wonderful of you guys to do this. So, proud of you,” Johnson said, reading out loud one of the comments.

Hatter agreed.

“A blessing. A blessing for kids in this community.”

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