The lines at Trill Burgers have wrapped around the building since its opening in early June, with Houstonians and visitors vying to get their hands on the award-winning smash burger. But on Tuesday, June 27, the line was even longer.
The restaurant, which is co-owned by Houston hip-hop legend Bun B, featured a special in honor of the late local rapper Big Pokey, who died on June 18 after collapsing on stage in front of thousands of fans. Much of the Houston music scene and fans were devastated, with rappers like Slim Thug and Lil Keke taking to social media to mourn and reflect, garnering an outpouring of support. Bun B decided to use Trill Burgers’s fanfare to celebrate Big Pokey’s life and raise money for his family.
The restaurant, which has a temporary brick-and-mortar location in Montrose, offered the limited-time-only Big Pokey special, consisting of a Triple OG burger, served with three crispy beef patties, gooey American cheese, grilled onions, Trill sauce, and a special addition — bacon.
Bun said the bacon was necessary because it became a part of Big Pokey’s public persona, particularly during the height of the COVID pandemic, when he and fellow rapper Lil Keke argued on Instagram live about styles of bacon and brands of sausage while cooking separately. Pokey preferred “straight-legged” bacon cooked in the oven, while Keke swore by the skillet.
“It just became a real part of their public persona with this bacon shit — this bacon battle. So, we thought it’d be a great way to honor him and their friendship,” he said.
“Today, supporting Trill Burgers has a greater meaning ... We’re supporting local. There’s a deeper cultural resonance. Did they come here to get a burger?” said Bun B, while looking out the window into the line. “Yeah, but this is the most Houston shit you can do today.”
Diners could also purchase a bottle of Big Pokey peach soda, a special-edition soda made by soft drink company Exotic Pop, with profits going to Big Pokey’s family. A rep from the soft drink company, which also produces flavors of soda for the late Houston rapper Big Moe, says peach was Pokey’s second favorite flavor. “His favorite was banana creme soda, which was in the process of being produced in a 20-ounce bottle and would [have] been available for the holidays, but since his passing came unfortunately before the production ... we went ahead and bottled his second choice,” the rep wrote.
The day was significant in more ways than one. Each year on June 27, music fans and Houstonians often honor Houston music and DJ Screw — another late chopped-and-screw music legend who is credited with creating and catapulting the genre and giving the day its meaning. Screw and fellow members of the Screwed Up Click, including Pokey, recorded “June 27,” the 38-minute freestyle record, on that day and released the single in 1996. Screw died in November 2000. The record is also credited with helping launch Big Pokey’s career.
“Getting a burger from here means something, but getting a burger from here today means a lot,”’ Bun B said. “Pokey gave us great entertainment. We support Pokey. It’s all reciprocal. ... This is bigger than me.”
The Pokey special seemed to be a hit. Many people sitting at Trill Burgers’s tables ate bacon-topped burgers with the Pokey peach soda on the side, but Bun made it clear that it would likely be the only time the restaurant would serve its burgers with bacon — for now. The music mogul said that many customers have requested bacon but noted that it often adds an additional requirement of the kitchen since the meat is cooked on an entirely different grill than the beef. But Bun says he’s willing to listen to customers' feedback. “These are things we can take into consideration as a company,” he said.
So will the Big Pokey special — a Triple OG burger with bacon — return one day?
It could, Bun said. Only time will tell.