Basic Burgers

The 39¢ no-frills solution

John Galardi, 44, is trying to steal a march on the major combatants in the great American burger battle among McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. His strategy: undersell the competition. As president and owner of Der Wienerschnitzel International Corp., a California-based fast-food chain, Galardi is resurrecting the simple burger.

He has spent $100,000 and converted four of his chain's 324 U.S. outlets into white boxes with black stripes: they look like supermarket generic packaging with signboards reading 39¢ HAMBURGER STAND. McDonald's and Burger King's cheapest burger goes for 50¢.

Galardi's basic burger is thin—he gets ten patties per pound...

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