Steamers - Today’s restaurant with respect for the past

Local Historian Monte Dutton has written that Red’s Burgermasters, 508 North Sloan Street, started out as Clinton Drug Sundries in 1945. It was opened by Eugene Brabham (Red) Pinson Jr., returning from the second world war. Pinson was a state champion football player for Clinton in 1939; his son was a state champion in 1972; another son played on the Red Devils’ fourth state championship team. Fans used to gather at Red’s on Thursdays, as an informal booster club, for oyster stew and football conversation. Red’s was the “informal capital of the mill village and a place where people from all around gathered for hamburgers and hot dogs that were as legendary as the Red Devils.” The burger stand was acquired by Gene and Ronny Page, selling the business in 1990. Different owners had the place open, off and on. Ronny’s son, Brandon Page, struck his own course with the acquisition of Steamers, “a popular cafe on the Square since 2003, and his first priority was to bring back the Burgermasters menu,” Dutton wrote.

 

Brandon Page, the owner of Steamers uptown Clinton.

 

 

Ever since he was old enough to drive, Brandon Page has put off people who wanted him to spill the secret. He carried around with him the secret recipe for Red’s Burgermasters chili, telling folks who tried to pry it out of him, “I’m going to open my own place some day.”

That day came June 3, 2019, and one of the first things Page did was put that chili back on a menu well-established among locals who frequent the Uptown Square for breakfast and lunch. Now, they can go to Steamers for dinner, too, on Thursdays and Fridays.

Patrons will find the traditional Steamers menu, and some “new food” like wraps, AND the Red’s Burgermaster menu of custom-made hot dogs and hamburgers. Those who used to consume Red’s at the Clinton Mill’s gate eight have sampled the cuisine, and have asked to see the owner. They tell him the chili is right on it, or pretty darn close.

Brandon Page, now a father of three, has been perfecting the recipe since he was a teenager. In fact, his dad told him there were time when Brandon was a toddler and he had to be baby-sat in Red’s Burgermasters, he would be perfectly content sitting in a big green can munching a wienie - until the wienie was all gone.

The wienie-bunching boy is all grown up now, with responsibilities and a cafe of his own. He calls it “a leap of faith”.

“It was the right time,” Page said of acquiring Steamers, an Uptown Square institution since 2003. “I have three kids, and you want to make sure everybody is comfortable, but you do not want to pass up an opportunity. It’s something I love to do.”

A Presbyterian College graduate, Page said the community response has been super. “The staff here is great,” he said. “You have to be crazy or passionate to own a restaurant - I guess I’m both.

“It’s in my blood.”

In addition to Red’s, Brandon’s lineage has links to the Joanna Cafe. “We do good food the right way,” he said, “and we have some new ideas. A business that’s already established, I couldn’t turn that down.”

Page enjoys being on The Square, but he knows parking is at a premium. “Just come on down. You’ll find a place,” he says. Breakfast starts at 8 a.m., and the “lunch rush” continues to be noon to 1 p.m., so much so that some regulars are holding off until 1 to 2; Brandon says in the future he and the staff might accommodate that by staying open until 3 p.m. He is very active on Facebook, but he said he knows some of the older fans of Red’s Burgermasters might not be that social-media-aware. That’s why he was agreeable to this newspaper article. He wants everybody in Clinton and beyond to know, he has a passion for good food cooked and served the right way. And, don’t be shocked by a very unusual menu item. The Rathole isn’t what it sounds like.

But it is this: hamburger steak covered in cheese, chili and onions (for $9.99). A Red’s / Clinton institution fondly recalled by some hard-working folks.

 

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