Walled Lake’s only drive-up burger joint almost never happened

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A week before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the first stay-at-home order of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tim Sessions and his son, Jake Sessions, happened to be teaming up to buy the lakeside building that is now known as Big Dip Burgers.

Tim Sessions said that after holding his head down for a week because of the shutdown, not being able to find contractors to work on the building, which needed a ton of work. Sessions decided to start working on it himself considering he had a background in construction.

“I told myself, wait a minute, this is what I do,” Sessions said. “So I come in and start cleaning it. I had a couple friends come in periodically, and we didn’t get everything put together, but we opened.”

Jake Sessions came into the picture because of his love for food and his longing ambition to become a chef. 

Although Jake Sessions never abandoned his love for cooking after graduating high school, he did not pursue it as a career, attending Central Michigan University in hopes of becoming a molecular gastrologist or chemical engineer.

After scheduling issues with his classes caused him to fall behind in college, he said that his next thought was to begin pursuing cooking as a career, expressing that interest to his dad on a drive one day.

Co-owner and head chef Jake Sessions standing outside the kitchen. The art work on the wall was painted by Big Dip employee Hannah Ruffin. Photo by. Yousef Enayah

“It was always kind of a little bit of an obsession I had with food that slowly grew into me actually cooking in the end,” said Sessions. “I was 12 years old asking for a stand mixer for Christmas instead of an Xbox or something.”

Tim and Jake Sessions are not the lone owners of the business, with Jake’s friend Alex Hagood completing the trio of ownership after deciding to invest in the father and sons vision early on.

Jake and Tim Sessions sitting alongside fellow owner Alex Hagood and employee Hannah Ruffin. Photo by. Yousef Enayah

Hagood, 28, knew Jake for a few years prior to opening up Big Dip Burgers and said that he loves the experience and challenges that have come with opening up a business.

“This place is a blast every single day,” said Hagood, who has had numerous jobs in the food industry, semi-preparing him for the battles being a restaurant owner presents. “It’s a real experience.”

A view of Walled Lake from the lakeside restaurant Big Dip Burgers. Photo by. Yousef Enayah

The inspiration for Big Dip Burgers, which is located at 725. E Walled Lake Drive, comes from one of Tim Sessions favorite childhood restaurants, which he also happened to work at as a teenager.

Other than providing Walled Lake residents with the vintage car hopping experience, the owners also offer customers a clear view of Walled Lake along while enjoying food Jake Sessions prepares in the back.

After experimenting with different food distributors in the beginning, Jake said he was adamant about serving fresh food to customers, knowing that the extra time and effort would be worth it in the end..

“We started like that (using frozen burgers) but I was fighting them about it the whole time,” said Sessions, sitting at a table with his co-owners. “It’s not going to bother me to serve frozen french fries, but I can’t bring myself to serve a frozen burger.”

The restaurant has been open since May 23, 2020, serving a wide range of menu items that includes many grilled and fried items as well as ice cream. They also like to feature monthly specials, with this month’s special being fried ice cream.

“I feel like you walk up to Big Dip and it doesn’t look the best, but their food has always been amazing,” said Grace Henig, a Walled Lake native that’s been a customer there since they’ve opened.

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