$2 Burgers in Harlem – Street Food Icons


-I love to work. I always tell other people, “You gonna do anything,
get a job.” It keeps you out of trouble. -He’s like one of the mayors
of Harlem, you know what I mean? And it’s like this
is an institution. You have buses lined up here. -I used to get my hair done
out here as a little girl, and Mo’s been here
since I was a teenager. -Hi.
How you doing? -And it be less than 15 bucks
to get a haircut and, you know, something to eat. -I’ve been doing this so long I
don’t know anything else to do. ♪♪ It started because a friend
of mine’s came up with the recipe for the drinks,
so we set up to sell the drinks, and then there was
an uproar about, “Hey, you need a hot dog
with the drinks.” And it started from there. And then we moved into burgers,
and those sent good, so we said, “Let’s try this.” My name is
Leroy Maurice Robinson Jr. I’m a New York City
mobile food vendor — Mo’s Burgers. We’re in Harlem,
right in the center of it. I work at 153 Lenox Avenue, also known
as Malcolm X Boulevard. I been running Mo’s hot dogs
and drinks for 32 years. -This guy makes the best
burgers, man — over the moon. -I sell small cheeseburgers,
large cheeseburgers, hot sausages, fruit punch,
and lemonade, and then we mix the fruit punch
in the lemonade in the cup, and it’s called a half-and-half,
and that’s my number-one drink. -This is like Harlem in a cup. -Oh, I’m famous
for the hamburger. People love the hot dogs,
but I think I’m famous more
for the hamburgers. My small cheeseburgers are known
because they’re $2 burgers. I leave my prices the way it is
so that the young black kids and stuff can afford it here. Where is they gonna go get
a hot dog for $1.50 or a cheeseburger for $2? They’re not gonna get it.
I own the barbershop. I have the barbershop because
I have the freezers and stuff in the back
to help the food cart. I bought it about
four years ago. And ever since then,
it’s been good. I think I’m an asset
to the community. People tell you they just don’t
feel like going home to cook. It’s too hot or whatever
the case may be. I stand up 10 hours a day,
and I’m out here usually burning up, but I stay. -And if Mo’s wasn’t there,
then there would be a problem. -People care about
other people here. That’s why I’m so successful,
because people care about me, not because
I sell them a hot dog. -Mo’s a staple. My kids come home every day
after school, and this is the first thing they
do when they get off the bus. Harlem will always
be special to me because I was able to raise
my family through Harlem. I got four kids
graduated from college. Oh, the burgers, they helped pay
for the college. They all doing good now. I was born in Brooklyn. -[ Laughs ]
-Stay patient. These people, they love me. You see they stand there,
and, you know, they just joking with you. What’s up, brother?
-How you doing, brother? -I spent eight years
in the Navy, worked on propulsion equipment. After I got out of the service,
I was always in Harlem. Because I was a veteran, you get to get the license
free of charge. Hey, how you doing? When the city was converting
to they system as permits and stuff like that, we were running into problems
with the police all the time. But once all that got
straightened out and level, there was no problems. I leave the house
around 6:15 to 6:30. When I wake up, I’m constantly
pounding my head about what I need. Because once I get here,
that’s it. I can’t go and say, “Oops,
I forgot something.” And so this is where I head
into Harlem. I get there at 9:00,
and I start selling at 10:00, depending on, you know,
what all I have to do. I thank God for the day
and for the day He’s about to bring. ♪♪ I hit a switch inside. I can be sluggish, moving slow,
but once I get here, it’s no time for that. Everybody knows, when they see
this flag up, I’m going to work. When I get here,
it’s making sure that I have burgers
for the next hour, the next hour, the next hour
because they just go — at least 300 burgers,
100 hot dogs, and 75 sausages,
easily, every day. Then you got a hot sausage. You got to find out if that
person want onions on the sausage because you don’t
want to do it twice. The burgers are done. Alright, see, now,
if this person’s busy, you can just wrap the burger up. I just be joking with them
all the time. I always got a joke for them
or something sarcastic I say. They like that because,
you know, it gets them to smile when they come to get a hot dog. [ Laughter ] -Alright there.
-Alright. Thank you, buddy. -Yes, sir. -He could be a little stubborn
sometimes, but, you know,
he’s a good person. -He’s an actually amazing guy. If you short on something, he’ll actually give it
to you short — you know, see him next time. -Some people, you know,
saying he’s hard, but he’s a sweetheart. -It’s about letting them know that it’s not just
about me getting $1.50 for a hot dog. It’s just making their day. They make their day,
I go home to my wife… she makes my day. -Mmm. That’s like going
to a barbecue, just — you know? -My grandma started, and she got me on Mo’s,
so I love them. -Two cheeseburgers
and one hamburger, right? -Yep. -Enjoy your burger. -Thank you.
-You’re welcome. ♪♪ -About two years ago,
they had ran an article on me, and this line was so long. But I don’t follow up on Yelp. I’m satisfied with the response
I get from my people here. I don’t have to read to know
that, you know, am I doing good or doing bad. They tell me. Hey. You ain’t first. That lady there is first. -[ Laughs ] -I’ve always had
good times here. The only time that
I was ever upset was when my grandmother passed
and I couldn’t make a flight to go South Carolina,
to the funeral. That bothered me. I was mad at the stand
because I stayed here. I really should’ve been there,
but, no, I had to take care of this —
my obligation to this. I make rules, and that’s what
they are, you know — and not for for one —
they’re for all. I think it come
from my military days. You do things the way
they should be done. I do it because I love to do it. Without doing this all day,
every day, it would be… I don’t know what I’d be doing. ♪♪ ♪♪

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