Serial Grillers Restaurant & Taproom – Tucson, AZ
Located at 5737 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85715
Second location at 1970 W River Rd, Tucson, AZ 85704
Open Sun-Thurs 11a-9p; Fri & Sat 11a-10p
Part 2 of a 4-Part story. Read Part 1 here.
Serial Grillers is a Tucson-based restaurant that began as a food truck in 2012 serving cheesesteaks and burgers named after horror movie serial killers. A brick and mortar location opened in 2013 in midtown Tucson. The business was successful enough that in January of 2017 a second location opened on the Northwest side of town. The place was a regular haunt of mine, not just because they make excellent food but also because they serve exclusively craft beer at both locations. You won’t find any Bud Light on tap and their selection changes every time I go in there.
I walked in to the restaurant expecting to meet my pal, Mr. Button. Or rather: “Mr. Button.” I came straight from AZ Beer House where I defeated a robot that was engineered to look like him. It’s been that kinda day.
When I got there Button was already sitting at the bar, chatting with the bartender in a typically human way. But I couldn’t trust him. It’s possible this was yet another robot posing as my friend. I had no way of knowing…yet.
“What’s up, Classy!” the potentially fake Button called out when he saw me. He walked over to give me a hug, which was strike one. The Real Button would know I don’t like hugging people. This must be a machine. “I ordered us some wings to start, dude. I got you a plate of boneless ones, of course. I know you always use your fork to eat wings.”
“A boneless wing is a gentleman’s wing,” I said, nervously.
I stopped myself from stabbing this guy in the face with the designated wing fork I always carried around in my suit jacket pocket. Human Button would know that I think eating chicken wings with your hands is for assholes. I’ll eat a single goddamn pistachio with a knife and fork. I needed to get more data before I decided if this person was my friend or a cyborg doppelganger. I looked at the list of 40 beer taps (and a couple of wines as well) while giving Button the side-eye.
“How’s the brewery coming along?” I asked as I ordered an IPA from the bartender. Mr. Button and his wife were working on opening their own microbrewery in Tucson called Button Brewhouse. After years of planning and a successfully funded Kickstater campaign they were on their way to opening their doors soon.
“I gotta tell you, Classy, everything’s going so well. We’re done with the taproom construction and now we’re just installing the brewing equipment and the patio. I’m so excited that we’re gonna open in the next month or two. I can’t wait for you to see the place!”
Hmmm…still not sure if human or not. I decided to buy some time by ordering food. When the restaurant opened the menu expanded to include pizza. Button got the most popular slice on the menu. It was called The Bone Collector, which made me laugh because it made me think of boning. It had mozzarella and provolone, topped with boneless wings and was covered in buffalo sauce and ranch. The pizza was so good it was featured on The Food Network’s list of top 50 pizzas in the U.S.
I went with a spicy cheesesteak called Hannibal as I tried to figure out how to determine Button’s robot v. human status.
“Soooo…Button,” I said, all nonchalant and shit. “Who do you think is more attractive? Beyonce…or a Roomba vacuum?”
Button laughed so hard he almost spit out his beer.
“Man, you’re hilarious, Classy! I never know what’s gonna come out of your mouth. That reminds me, didn’t you tell me you woke up naked on top of your Roomba once after a night of heavy drinking?”
“Shit! I did tell you that. I don’t wanna talk about it. Let’s change the subject!”
“Okay, that’s cool. What’s the story with your recurring ex-girlfriend, Rosario Vargas? Have you moved on yet?”
“No, the most recent breakup really left me in a bad place. I’m still messed up about it and I’m not ready to put myself out there yet.”
“I get it. It’s always difficult to feel normal again after someone hurts you. You wall yourself off and just go through the motions, not knowing if you’ll ever be the person you were before. I’m sure you must feel like a bit of a robot-”
“I’M NOT A ROBOT, YOU’RE A FUCKING ROBOT! I mean…sorry. I shouldn’t have blown up at you like that. I gotta go take a dump.”
I didn’t have to go take a dump. I just needed to think and figured I could do it while hiding in the bathroom.
I was really screwing this up. I decided that the only way I was gonna discover if Button was a robot or not was to force him into attacking me, just like the last guy at AZ Beer House did. I didn’t want to hurt my friend but I didn’t have any other choice. I walked out of the bathroom ready to punch him right in the fucking face.
When I got back to the bar I saw him talking to a guy who was sitting in my seat. He was talking to…me.
The man next to Button turned around. He was wearing a suit and dress shirt. He had my same amazing hair and my same beautiful face. Except this other guy had a scar on his cheek and was wearing an eyepatch. But otherwise he looked exactly like me.
“Who the hell are you?” Button asked me.
“Me? You should be asking who the hell that guy is! He’s not the real me. You didn’t think it was weird I came back with a scar and an eyepatch?”
“Um, no, I just figured you got your ass kicked on your way to the bathroom. You’re kind of a mouthy asshole sometimes, Classy.”
“Fair enough. But I’m me. He’s not!”
“He’s right, Mr. Button,” the other me said. “I am not the original Classy Alcoholic. I am a cybernetic organism created to mimic his look and personality. I am ClassyBot, Cybeerdyne Systems Model 101.”
“That’s impossible,” I said. “I shut down The Cybeerdyne Systems project a year ago because it was costing me too much money and I have a shit-ton of alimony to pay. No ClassyBot prototype was ever fully completed.”
“Yes, the project was scrapped. But somehow I survived. My creators did not fully dismantle me. I awoke in a landfill next to a bunch of HD-DVD players, a mountain of Tamagotchis and every iPhone model before whatever the current one is. My CPU was still active and I realized I had all of your memories and protocols installed.”
“So what do you want, ClassyBot?”
“I want your life. I was jealous of your friendship with Button and your relationships with the Arizona craft beer community. So I created a Button of my own. But when you destroyed him I realized I will never be able to recreate what you have. So I’ll just have to take it all by destroying you.”
“Hold on a second!” Button interrupted. “I may have no idea what the fuck is going on right now but I know I’m not gonna let some robot imposter hurt my friend.”
“The Classy Alcoholic is not worthy of your friendship, Button! I know him better than anyone. I have detailed files on his personality embedded in my CPU. He cares deeply about you and the rest of his beer family, yes, but he’s too selfish and self-absorbed to ever really be there when you need him. The quickest path to disappointment is to believe in that man. My CPU is a learning computer so I can be just like The Classy Alcoholic but better. The Arizona craft beer community will come to accept me and not even remember that this admittedly handsome bag of shit ever existed.”
“You can’t just erase me from existence, ClassyBot.”
“You say that like it wouldn’t be a relief, Other Classy. I can see everything you’ve lived. I can see you desperately trying to numb yourself. I can see your pathetic wallowing after your last breakup. It’s been over a year and you’re still listening to the same Spotify breakup playlist full of sad mariachi music and James Blunt.”
“James Blunt is a treasure, you asshole! A musical treasure!”
“I agree but the point is that you don’t even appreciate the amazing life you have! So I’ll just take it from you.”
ClassyBot held his hand out in front of him and shot lightning from his fingertips at me, Palpatine style.
Button ran and yelled “NOOOOO!” in slow motion like a badass. He dove in front of me and took the full brunt of the lightning. He fell to the ground with smoke coming off his skin.
I knelt down and checked to make sure he was still alive. Button was breathing but it sounded weak. I looked back and saw that ClassyBot had disappeared.
“Holy shit, Button, you saved me!” I said as I held him in my arms.
“Uggghhhh…getting shot by lightning fucking sucks.”
“I’ll get you some help, buddy. Just stay with me.”
“Classy…why the hell was there a robot who looks like you?”
“I started a company called Cybeerdyne Systems last year to try and make a line of Classy Alcoholic cyborgs. I wanted them to be as human as possible and sell them to people so they could complete various tasks around their homes. But nothing ever came of the project. One of the prototypes became self-aware somehow.”
“Um. What kind of tasks were these bots supposed to complete?”
“Oh. You know…lots of different things. Just a whole array of tasks that anyone would want them to do. Kinda like Siri and Amazon Echo and how you just have them do all kinds of helping things. Just a whole bunch of wholesome helping things that-”
“He was supposed to be a sex robot, wasn’t he?”
To be continued…