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LA’s Best New Burger Spot Hides Out on a Public Golf Course in Long Beach

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The green platform that hangs in the back of the pro shop at Bixby Village Golf Course in Long Beach comes and goes with people during an afternoon. Low clouds and coastal breezes mean patrons linger longer, opening cans of cheap beer and swapping stories about country life. There’s no fancy clubhouse on this 42-year-old par-three nine-hole course, just friends laughing, reliving old tales and hanging out. Stick around long enough and one of Dave Trepanier’s burgers will find its way in front of you too.

Everyone who stops at Bixby Village Golf Course finally gets a burger, or should. Trepanier’s backyard beef burgers, airy and thicker than squashed, not only keep golfers on the small executive course with worn fairways, but also attract a whole new clientele of young and hungry diners from Long Beach who are always on the lookout for the next great meal. Pretty soon they’re here, staring at the long flat grill of the golf course patio restaurant known simply as Crack.

“When I first got here, it was just an old sandwich shop,” says Trepanier, speaking fast and sporting slicked-back hair. He is always joking around with the customers, except when it comes to his food. The space he now occupies, a third of a small building next to the parking lot, was empty for seven years before Trepanier started cooking. Letting people know that he had arrived was serious work. “I couldn’t get these old golfers to leave their oatmeal to come eat with me,” he jokes, “so I took a flat top grill out on the deck and started putting onions and bacon on it, just to impregnate the course with smell. Then I started with a $5 hamburger; He had to have something when they got here.

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The long flat top on the deck.

A row of burgers displayed from above on a metal plate outside.

Bacon jam on cheese.

In just over a year, Trepanier has gone from bacon lures to Long Beach’s hottest new speakeasy burger. His place has almost no signage and is located inside another business. But the rumors about his hidden burger are out. “Now 80 percent of my business is not golfers,” he says, making sure to point out his five-star Yelp rating. “I don’t like Yelp, and they don’t like me, but the numbers don’t lie.”

Neither are the burgers. At $12 each, each is packed with well-grilled beef, seared to a backyard shine. There’s an opening punch from the loose patties that helps brown the meat, but everything else is in the details. “It’s not my meat, it’s what I not do with the hamburger,” says Trepanier, “I don’t touch it. The end result is thick and heavy, a far cry from the paper-thin ripped versions in greater Los Angeles these days. The loose shape means lots of ridges and places for fat to collect; it’s similar in style to Venice’s classic Hinano Cafe or Hawkin’s House of Burgers in Watts. The shredded lettuce and thick slice of tomato nod as much to Los Angeles burger traditions as the Yellow Paper Burger, but it’s the sweet, slow-cooked bacon and Trepanier’s onion marmalade that rounds out the burgers.

“My palate is salty and sweet,” says Trepanier, who, after a year as a one-man operation, including a stint making breakfast foods, is only now starting to let someone else cook the meat. He keeps a close watch, alternating between telling dirty jokes to the customers and giving the cook stern advice. It’s been hard for him to let go, he admits, because the restaurant is his whole world right now, and because the kitchen has always been a place to find perspective. He spent much of his childhood cooking for himself while his mother worked long hours; he even remembers receiving a small set of pots and pans as a birthday present. He then grew up and moved on, landing blue-collar jobs in the metal industry before life took a turn.

A tall shot of a handwritten menu board to display various burgers.

The small menu.

“I spent three years in prison,” says Trepanier. “I was a homeless man, a drug user, and I learned how to manufacture. I was in a little camp in Baker and I needed a job there, so I got one in the kitchen. It’s where I wanted to spend my time.”

“I joke with customers,” he says. “They ask me where I learned to cook and I tell them ‘in jail,’ and they laugh because they don’t really know.” Then comes the auction, for him: “Manufacture [drugs] It was just another kitchen job, but it’s one I can’t brag about.”

Now Trepanier can brag about Crack, this little makeshift burger joint that’s really just a golf course deck. He brags about his Ortega burger with hatch chiles, the thick, rich burger with chipotle bacon jam called Dirty (a playful nickname for his best friend and biggest supporter), and his growing customer base. Trepanier sells about 100 burgers a day, Tuesday through Sunday, along with specialties like rib sandwiches, wings and whatever else you want to whip up, and those numbers are growing.

“I want this to be a little hidden gem of a place,” he says as burger fans and golfers mill around, eating, drinking and swapping stories. “I love when people come up and say it’s like eating in their friends’ backyard.”

Fissure sells from 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, at the Bixby Village Golf Course at 6180 Bixby Village Drive in Long Beach.

A close-up of a burger on a toasted bun with green chili inside.

The ortega burger with a hatch chili.

A man in a blue hat and apron presses a beef burger on a griddle.

A new worker cutting part of a hamburger.

A backyard-style burger with dark edges and vegetables on a toasted bun, up close.

The classic bacon jam burger with lettuce and tomato.

An angled shot looking at a hamburger with loose edges on a green table.

The sharp edges of the dirty hamburger.

A simple patio setup with a burger griddle and customers waiting.

Inside a simple golf shop, near the cash register, with golf balls on display.

A wooden golf course sign on a green lawn.

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