I felt the need to visit Hamburger Mary’s, the bar and burger grill in downtown Orlando, recently. The reason was the death of Sam Singhaus, a local entertainer and popular personality who regularly entertained at Mary’s as his alter ego Miss Sammy. Sam, who was a friend and one-time neighbor of mine, died Oct. 12 after a recent diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor. He was 60.
Sam grew up in Orlando but moved to New York to break into show business. And did he ever. He landed a part in the original Broadway cast of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” a 1982 stage version of the 1954 film musical that played 15 previews and five performances before closing. (Considering the story line involves the titular siblings abducting young women to cook and do the housework for them in their backwoods home, it isn’t likely we’ll ever see a revival.)
But the following year, Sam was cast as one of Les Cagelles in the original Broadway production of “La Cage aux Folles.” (Search YouTube for the La Cage performance on the Tony Awards broadcast and you’ll see a closeup of Sam about 37 seconds in.)
Sam moved back to Orlando and became co-owner of Big Bang, a bar in downtown Orlando, and he started entertaining as Miss Sammy in costumes and wigs reminiscent of 1950s television housewives. (Think “I Love Lucy”’s Lucille Ball, someone he also impersonated.)
And in 2008, shortly after Hamburger Mary’s opened, one of the owners contacted Sam about possibly entertaining at the restaurant. So beginning June 24, 2008, Sam, as Miss Sammy, cohosted the weekly Twisted Sister Bingo and continued for 550 performances. Miss Sammy was clever, witty, never mean and didn’t have to lip sync.
Hamburger Mary’s co-owner John Paonessa wrote on Facebook: “As I write this post, Sam is clinging to life in the hospital, and it's devastating to all of us at Hamburger Mary's. However, I want this post to reflect how much love and joy he brought to not only Hamburger Mary's but the entire Orlando community. Sam is the real deal. He and his alter ego, Miss Sammy, are love personified and we are all blessed to know them both. I am so thankful that Sam Singhaus said YES to Hamburger Mary's in 2008. He has been an integral part of the success of Hamburger Mary's, and for that we will always be thankful.”
So that’s why I visited Hamburger Mary’s recently.
My takeout order included the Mary-Mac & cheese balls, the gooey pasta orbs breaded and frittered, served with Mary-nara sauce (there’s a lot of wordplay on the menu, and a lot of it is insider wink-wink material).
I also got the Bleu Boy Burger (definitely a wink-wink), which featured blue cheese and blue cheese dressing on the large beef patty, which was cooked pretty close to the requested medium rare. (With takeout orders, it’s difficult to keep meat temps where they’re supposed to be.) An order of tatas – tater tots, if you will – accompanied.
I also had a Queen Mary Burger, with melted jack and cheddar cheeses, bacon rashers and grilled onions with Mary sauce, which apparently is different from Mary-nara.
Both burgers were good and sufficiently sloppy to eat, but I preferred the Bleu Boy just a bit more.
I didn’t bother with any of the menu’s nonburger items – after all, it isn’t called Taco Mary’s – but I did do a double take at the Philly Cheesesteak Sammy. However, I felt pretty certain that it wasn’t named after Sam – he was a non meat eater.
Because of its location on Church Street, Hamburger Mary’s does not offer curbside pickup. Orders must be picked up at the bar. But there were not a lot of people inside and I did not feel unsafe.
A few people were gathering because it was Twisted Sister Bingo night, but I didn’t linger. Wouldn’t have been the same without Miss Sammy.
I’ll leave it to Paonessa to sum things up, as he did in his Facebook post: “I once asked Sam, ‘Do you ever get tired of putting on makeup and a dress?’
“He said, ‘No! Miss Sammy makes people happy, and I want to make people happy.’
Mission Accomplished, Sam Singhaus!”
Hamburger Mary’s is at 110 W. Church St., Orlando. It is open for lunch daily and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 321-319-0600. To see the online menu, be sure to click the option to view it as a PDF, otherwise it is unreadable.