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Longleaf Coffee to celebrate former theater owner's contribution,

July 27, 2011 at 2:27 a.m.

Rubin Frels enjoys a relaxing morning at the LongLeaf Coffee Co. on Main Street on Wednesday morning. In celebration of his life and long ties to Victoria, The LongLeaf has whipped up a Frelsburger in his honor.

THEATERS ONCE OWNED BY FRELS

Tejas Aztec

Lone Tree Drive In

Victoria Theatre

Uptown Theatre

The Venus Theatre

Salem Cinema Six

Playhouse Theatre

ABOUT THE FRELSBURGER

Frelsburger Sauce was made, for decades, in the kitchen at the Lone Tree Drive In Theatre. Customers would go to the drive-in just to purchase the burgers.

In the 1970s it was decided to sell Frelsburgers at the Playhouse and Salem Six theaters. These paled in comparison to the originals prepared at the Drive In, but they still sold by the dozens each week.

The original Frelsburger was made on sesame seed buns, quarter pound patty (from Quality Packers), and a lot of chopped iceberg lettuce. The tomatoes and onions were in the sauce, along with healthy portions of sliced jalapenos - with the seeds.

Source: Gary Dunnam at Victoria Preservation Inc.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Rubin Frelsburger Night

WHERE: LongLeaf Coffee Co., 215 S. Main St.

WHEN: 5 p.m. - 8 p.m., Friday

COST: $8 for Frelsburger. Includes potato salad or chips and drink.

INFO: For more information call LongLeaf Coffee Co. at 361-578-7785. Seating is limited but there is no need to RSVP.

Rubin S. Frels sinks his teeth into a rich chicken avocado sandwich from LongLeaf Coffee Co.

The downtown shop, which is part of Frels' daily routine, will be honoring the 82-year-old for his contributions to Victoria with the Frelsburger, a recipe Frels' father created.

"It's going down memory lane," said Frels, who admitted he was surprised about the Friday night Frels burger night.

The burger is just like any regular burger, expect that is has a secret hot sauce, he said.

The idea for the burger was started by Frels' father, who owned a theatre in Victoria.

His father created the burger and as the story goes, Frels' father made the burger hot so people would buy more Cokes.

This was during the 1910s.

Frels' father passed away when Frels was only in his early 20s and then Frels took over the theatre, becoming one of the bigger theatre owners in the country.

In 2003, Frels sold out to Cinemark, but before that, he had a total of eight Victoria theatres and many others across south Texas.

"It kept me on my toes," Frels said.

During the '70s, the theatres were considered the largest employer in the area, Frels said.

Most of Frels' history is told by Brad Richards, who has been caretaking for Frels for the past several years.

"He's my walking calendar," Frels said, a smile cracking across his face.

"He can walk into any store and people know him," Richards added.

Dana Moore, who helps co-manage the coffee shop said she, her husband Jared, the co-manager, and her husband's in-laws, who own the coffee shop, had wanted to do something special for Frels for a while.

"We've grown to Rubin and Brad," Moore said. "We feel we had to do it."

Moore is aware of Rubin's contribution to Victoria through theatre, particularly with theatres downtown, and she feels that should not go unnoticed.

The night will feature a drawing for a LongLeaf and Movie gift card and an open mike for people wanting to share stories about Frels, his father's burger or the theatre, Moore said.

"That's exactly what Longleaf is about," Moore said. "Bringing people together to share moments they will always remember."

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