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Dock of the Bay: May 31-June 6, 2018

Burgers, candidates, EZ Pass, mulch, crab picking

Back in the Burger Biz 
18 months after fire, Cheeburger focusing “on the things we do best”
      In the small hours of a Thursday in September of 2016, the smell of smoke raised the alarm at the Festival at Riva shopping center. Firefighters responded to find smoke billowing from the rear of Cheeburger Cheeburger. 
      The blaze remained in the burger joint’s kitchen, but smoke tore through three adjoining businesses as well, causing $150,000 in damage. California Tortilla, Ceremony Coffee and European Wax Center reopened after a couple of months, but for Cheeburger Cheeburger, rebuilding would take more time. 
       The absence created a void in Annapolis for a good-quality quick burger.
      There are no Shake Shack’s nearby, no Steak and Shakes, Smashburgers or Gino’s Burgers. The only close rivals to this build-a-burger eatery are Five Guys and BGR The Burger Joint. If you want a milkshake to go with your burger, your options are still more limited. 
      This March, 18 months after the fire, the chain reopened in its location on Forest Drive with a shorter name: Cheeburger. 
      “We wanted our customers to know that we are still a part of the Cheeburger Cheeburger family but just a little more modern and cool,” says Harold Autry, owner of the Annapolis Cheeburger. “We’ve been around for a long time and saw rebuilding as an opportunity to move this location in a different direction.”
       Also new is the slogan: Classic Burgers, Insane Shakes. There are 15 types of shakes and one Insane Shake of the Week, this week’s, Cookie Dough. You can pick a classic burger, or you can still build your own with four types of cheese, eight free toppings, seven sauces and five premium toppings.
      The new setting is more contemporary than the original. Red and blue colors dominate the polished-looking setup, with light and dark wood accents. You can choose between a window seat along the bar top, a regular table or a high top community table.
      “The menu is trimmed down so we can focus on the things we do best,” Autry says.
–Shelby Conrad
 
Who’s Your Candidate?
Sort them out at www.vote411.org
       Election 2018 is stoking people’s passions. Are you prepping up for the June 26 primary?
      The place to do just that is the League of Women Voters’ online Voters’ Guide for Maryland: www.vote411.org. Type in your address, choose the green Personalize bar on the next page and decide which party — or both — you want to consider. Voila! Up they pop, from governor to county office seekers. 
       A special feature lets you compare them two-by-two, bringing up links to websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
       Scroll down and you see each candidate’s answers to questions posed by the League on significant issues.
       Most offices are sought by so many candidates that you’ll have to take notes. But this year it’s easier than ever to see why taking that time is to your benefit.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
 
E-Zier Pass
In time for summer travel, no buy-in, cheaper tolls 
       Just in time for summer vacations, new E-Z Passes are cheaper. 
       To get vacationers to the beach faster and cheaper Gov. Larry Hogan cut tolls on Maryland’s bridges and tunnels as one of his first official acts. Continuing in that vein, he’s now eliminated the $7.50 charge E-Z Pass holders used to pay. Customers who’ve already bought a transponder this year will get a credit, and any older device will be replaced at no cost with the new smaller model.
       E-Z Pass users old and new get a second bonus: lower Bay Bridge tolls. They now pay just $2.50 to cross, compared to $4 for cash users.
       Over the next five years, the cut is projected to save Marylanders $46 million plus time going through tollbooths. Improved air quality around tollbooths is counted as another benefit, and statewide tourism is expected to get a boost. 
       E-Z Pass: www.ezpassmd.com.
–Shelby Conrad
 
For Your Garden Path
Woodchips, free for the asking
       Going down the garden path is squishier after days of drenching rain. So you’ll be glad to know you can get free wood chips to cover its soggy ground.
Anne Arundel County residents can pick up free chips — the residue of dumped tree litter and scrap wood — at the Millersville Landfill. Quantities vary so call before making a trip.
      If you’re in need of a large load of wood chips, Arundel Tree Service will bring you a truckload of chipped trimmings after working in your area. Call ahead to be put on the delivery list: 410-439-1900.
      For Calvert Countians pick up your free wood chips at the Appeal Landfill in Lusby, Monday through Friday with no limit per resident while supplies last.
       This wood-chipped mulch is perfect for making garden paths, but it may leech surrounding nutrients from the soil, so it’s not recommended to place it directly around your plants.
–Shelby Conrad
 
Way Downstream …
       From the Eastern Shore, a decision by the U.S. Homeland Security Department could have a beneficial effect for all of us who relish a staple of Maryland summers: the crab cake.
  Let us unpack that sentence. Yes, it’s early in the crab season, but a sad truth is unfolding. The Maryland seafood industry is in crisis because roughly half of the crab houses on the Eastern Shore have no workers to pick the crustaceans for the meat sold across the state in restaurants and supermarkets.
     Why is that? As part of the anti-immigrant fervor emanating from the highest levels of government, crab-picker visas this season are being awarded via lottery and in limited numbers. If your seafood operation isn’t a winner, lots of people are losers. That’s the case in Maryland.
       But just before Memorial Day, Homeland Security loosened the knot. The agency approved 15,000 H-2B temporary visas for nonagriculture workers, acknowledging that “there are not sufficient, qualified U.S. workers available” and that the new limit “unintentionally harms American businesses.”
  That’s 15,000 visas for the entire country, mind you, but it’s a glimmer of hope for the Maryland seafood industry — and for those of us who’d rather not yelp in pain at the menu price of a crab cake sandwich.