Yelp ranks CB Gas Station #1 in North Carolina for a burger

An Island Bites burger can be topped one of 20 ways at the CB Gas Station, named the number one burger in North Carolina by Yelp. (Courtesy picture)

CAROLINA BEACH — At an unassuming convenience store at the intersection of Lake Park Boulevard and Carl Winner Drive on Pleasure Island, it’s not uncommon to see a crowded parking lot with people gathering for lunch.

They start lining up every day at 11 a.m. at Island Burgers and Bites, a casual fast food spot — yes, located at a gas station. Its popularity has grown in a short time, so much so that it was recognized this week by Yelp.

ALSO: In other beer and bites news

The national brand, which posts crowdsourced reviews for businesses nationwide, posted its top spot for getting a burger in every state on Tuesday. Island Burgers and Bites took the crown in Tar Heel State.

Located in a blue and white Sunoco gas station, the restaurant is owned and operated by brothers Kanwar and AJ Singh of Wilmington. The two opened the convenience store in 2012, but it wasn’t until four years ago that they decided to optimize its production beyond simple snacks and sodas.

Today, a 200 square foot kitchen has been added to its footprint, managed by eight employees. Only a handful of items are on the menu: hot dogs, Philly cheese steaks, burgers, fries, and onion rings.

Single, double and triple patties, crushed between two buns, are garnished myriad ways: coleslaw, chili, mustard; grilled onions, mushrooms and cheese; candied bacon, fried egg and cheddar.

“We have over 20 toppings,” AJ Singh told the Port City Daily on Thursday.

Based on 142 reviews on Yelp, Island Burgers and Bites earns high four- and five-star scores. And it’s not just locals; locals who visit the seaside town for vacations sing its praises.

“The best burgers! Don’t Skip the Candied Bacon,” Michele T. of Wildomar, CA, posted Aug. 20. “The owners and staff are great! An absolute MUST!”

Yelp’s methodology determining the best burger in each state involved identifying businesses listed in its food and restaurant categories and aggregating the largest reviews with the keyword “cheeseburger.” It then ranked all restaurants still marked “open” and with a satisfactory health score in the United States, from January 1 to July 15, 2022.

Singh said word of mouth is the bread and butter of Island Burgers and Bites. Specifically, on Google, the store has over 600 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.

“We’re really grateful,” he said, noting that they haven’t paid for any advertising since the kitchen launched in 2018.

Island Burgers and Bites has a prime location – one of the only stores to make a pit stop onto Carl Winner Boulevard turning off the road to get to Freeman Park. It is also one of the first gas stations seen after crossing Snow’s Cut to get to the island.

While luring people through the door wasn’t problematic, keeping them coming back consistently was rewarding. Singh attributes it to the freshness of all the ingredients, from the jalapeños, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, to the homemade coleslaw, chili, and chili.

“We prepare the burgers by hand every morning, nothing is frozen,” he added. “We use certified premium Angus beef and we make the bacon confit every morning.”

The burgers come on potato rolls, ordered from Chicago. The bread company was going to discontinue the buns, but Singh said that once island food distributors reported how many orders the Carolina Beach company was placing each week, the company changed course.

“We get a food truck every other day right now,” Singh said. “We’re in such a small place that we don’t have walk-in chill space.”

Still, the limited storage works in the company’s favor; this constantly ensures freshness.

Island Burgers and Bites does not offer seating for dinner. By design, her food is made quickly, on the go, just like the convenience store items she sells.

“Don’t let them fool you, being at a gas station. The food was great and the staff friendly,” Tammy P. of Gastonia, NC, wrote on Yelp on July 31.

Singh said there are no plans to expand the menu or even move the restaurant to a larger, self-contained space.

“We’re going to keep it simple,” he said.

Island Burgers and Bites is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, until 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Advice or comments? E-mail [email protected]

Want to know more about PCD? Subscribe now, then sign up for our morning newsletter, Wilmington Wire, and get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

Lynn A. Saleh