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Louisville’s great burger debate

Two Old Louisville classics — Dizzy Whizz and Ollie’s Trolley — go head-to-head.

LOU_Dizzy_Whizz_vs._Ollie's_Trolley_JUNE2024

We’re putting these two Old Louisville burger staples up against one another, patty for patty.

Photo by LOUtoday

Among Louisvillians, there are certain signature debates: Cards vs. Cats, neat or on the rocks, and Dairy Del vs. Dairy Kastle.

But there’s another immortal debate that’s almost as old as Old Louisville, where it resides: Dizzy Whizz vs. Ollie’s Trolley.

The two burger joints are separated by just one block of 3rd Street, from St. Catherine Street to Kentucky Street, and both offer classic diner fare.

So how did these two neighborhood staples survive the decades in such close proximity? We’ve got the juicy details on Louisville’s great burger rivalry.

Dizzy Whizz

A sign advertises a Whizz Burger, noting it's been around since 1947. It also lists a breakfast special.

Dizzy Whizz advertises itself as the “only true curb service in Louisville.”

Photo by LOUtoday

Dizzy Whizz (217 St. Catherine St.) is a taste of mid-century America. It offers old-school, drive-in service — just without the roller skates — as well as counter service for breakfast lunch and dinner seven days per week, from early in the morning to late at night: 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday + Saturday, for example.

There’s more than burgers on the menu. In addition to breakfast staples, like eggs and bacon + biscuits and gravy, the Dizzy Whizz dairy bar serves several sweet treats, like sundaes, flurries, pies, and milkshakes.

Late Louisvillian Howard Poole opened the restaurant in 1947 as a ten-stool dining car. Poole eventually expanded the business to include two other locations in Louisville, including a 24-hour operation at 2nd Street + Broadway. Now down to just the original Old Louisville location, it’s still a family business — Howard’s son Tim Poole is in charge today.

Ollie’s Trolley

A small, rectangular building sits on a street corner. It's designed to appear like a streetcar, including the designation "3rd & Kentucky Line" painted on the side.

The trolley imagery was the idea of John Y. Brown, who said it reminded him of Louisville’s streetcar system from his youth.

Photo by LOUtoday

A lunch-time-only spot, Ollie’s (978 S. 3rd St.) is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. It stays on track with a streamlined menu of burgers, fries, hot dogs + chicken and fish sandwiches.

Once upon a time, Ollie’s Trolley was a chain, with ~100 trolleys parked on street corners nationwide. It was founded by Ollie Gleichenhaus as a sandwich shop in Miami, but went national in the 1970s when Louisvillian John Y. Brown — who famously turned Kentucky Fried Chicken into an international brand — convinced Gleichenhaus that he would be the next Colonel Sanders, and franchised Ollie’s locations across the country.

Today, just two Ollie’s restaurants remain — in Louisville and Cincinnati. The Louisville Ollie’s was the original franchise, opening in 1973. A third Ollie’s was open in Washington, D.C., but closed in December 2023.

Bonus: Need your own Ollie’s spice blend at home? You can buy the burger seasoning and recipes online.

Burger-to-burger

Two bugers, surrounded by french fries.

The Whizzburger and crinkle-cut fries and the Ollieburger, with seasoned Olliefries.

Photo by LOUtoday

Now that you’ve got the scoop, let’s heat things up. Both restaurants have a signature burger, but which is your bun and only?

Ollieburger

  • The single patty, weighs in at a third of a pound +is seasoned with a blend of 32 spices.
  • Ollieburgers come either dressed with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles or undressed — with or without the cheese.
  • The signature sauce offers a sweet + tangy compliment to the spice mix — think: Big Mac sauce.
  • Fully dressed Ollieburger with cheese: $7.75 — it’s cash only, by the way

Whizzburger

  • This double-decker burger features two thin patties separated by a third bun in the middle.
  • Whizzburgers come with lettuce, cheese, and a thick, zesty sauce, providing a little sweetness— think: Big Boy sauce
  • Whizzburger: $4.99

So, Louisville, which burger gets you sizzling? The Ollieburger or the Whizzburger?

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