Mugshots aims for mass appeal


Mugshots in Downtown Tuscaloosa./CW| Sara Beth Colburn

Ashley Chaffin

Downtown Tuscaloosa is home to a burger that would intimidate the hungriest of men. The Mugshot is stacked three patties high with all the trimmings, beer-battered fries, an onion ring and a pickle. Anyone willing to take on this monstrous burger has 12 minutes to finish it off or they are left with a $20 bill and a lot of leftovers.

Mugshots, home of the Mugshot, has become a favorite among Tuscaloosa residents since it opened its doors in 2005, largely because of its gigantic portions.

“For the college crowd, it’s a bit pricier, but the portion is worth it,” said Zac Corbett, a sophomore majoring in pre-med. “You pay that much and you get a burger that, in my opinion, is worth every dollar.”

While sitting on a beach in Hawaii, Ron Savell and Chris McDonald, co-owners of Mugshots, decided it was their calling to open a restaurant that served great food and drinks in a community atmosphere. When they returned to Hattiesburg, Miss., they recruited friends and family to help them work around the clock to make their dream a reality.

When the first Mugshots opened its doors on Jan. 10, 2004, Savell and McDonald thanked their friends and family by naming the food on the menu after them. Today, Mugshots has grown into five different locations, and the Tuscaloosa one maintains the original quality of food and community atmosphere.

“The atmosphere is nostalgic, and it’s not only the menu of what they offer but the interior and the way it’s built that is just very appealing,” Corbett said. “It’s not too formal, but it’s also not a hole in the wall.”

Will Anderson, the general manager of the Mugshots in Tuscaloosa, said it is the downtown location that makes Mugshots such a good fit in the town. During the weekdays it is filled with businessmen, college students at night and families on the weekends.

“We try to cater to everyone,” he said. “We are geared towards the whole community.”

When Mugshots first opened in Tuscaloosa, however, the owners weren’t sure to which community they most wanted to appeal. Originally they had a full-service bar upstairs to try to capitalize on Tuscaloosa’s growing nightlife scene.

It wasn’t long before owners realized that it was better to keep Mugshots the way it was intended to be, a full-service restaurant, and Tuscaloosa residents are glad they did.

“Most people want to separate where they drink and smoke from where they eat,” Corbett said. “This way it is open to a much larger crowd, you’ll be able to get families in there, and it’s open to college kids who aren’t appealed to the bar scene at all.”

Mugshots’ menu has something for everyone, but it is the burgers that keep customers coming back for more. Each burger is stacked high with toppings, but some of their burgers come with toppings you may not expect.

“The Gamble” is loaded with homemade chili, cheddar cheese sauce, sour cream and jalapeños, while the most popular burger, “The McDonald,” comes with so many toppings it’s hard to bite into it.

“We sell that the most for sure,” Anderson said. “It comes with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, ranch and barbecue sauce. I would always get it when I came to Mugshots before I worked here.”

Corbett said these adventurous burgers are what makes Mugshots so appealing. He said there are so many places around Tuscaloosa that put the same thing on burgers that it is great to be able to try something new.