EatKentucky: Louisville’s venerable Ollie’s Trolley serves up spicy burgers to go

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By Alan Cornett
Special to KyForward

In Old Louisville, just down from Spalding University, is Ollie’s Trolley. Ollie’s is the last Kentucky vestige of a burger chain headquartered in Louisville, and founded by John Y. Brown in the 1970s.

Once there were Ollie’s Trolleys in various cities in the east, now there seem only to be Trolleys in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Washington, D.C. and those are no longer really connected. Chains aren’t usually the sort of thing I focus on at Eat Kentucky, but a Kentucky based failed chain with only one Trolley standing is just the sort of chain that appeals to me.

Ollie Burger

Ollie’s is designed for walk up and go. The Trolley has an order window, a pickup window, and a kitchen. There’s about enough room for about three customers to stand, give or take a customer depending on how many Ollie Burgers they’ve eaten. Whatever you order, you’re ordering to-go.

My wife and I each got a signature Ollie Burger with cheese and “dressed”, that is, with the special Ollie sauce. We each got an order of Ollie fries with Ollie seasoning. The seasoning is a proprietary blend of 26 herbs and spices, which is more than twice as good as eleven herbs and spices.

Both burgers and fries use the seasoning, and whatever is in the seasoning -— I caught some isolated celery in there somewhere -— it’s clear why it has stood the test of time.

Ollie's Trolley

In fact, once you have an Ollie burger and fries you’ll wonder why the chain ever failed if all of the Trolleys made them like this.

The Ollie dressing is somewhat Big Mac-like, but far better. We got a cup of dressing on the side to dip the fries in—highly recommended. The Ollie spices and Ollie sauce, well, spice up the taste, nothing bland going on here.

Ollie’s may have arrived in Kentucky as a destined-to-fail burger chain, but its origin shouldn’t disqualify it from serious consideration as one of Louisville’s, and Kentucky’s, best hamburgers. Let’s hope the Trolley keeps serving up Ollie Burgers for decades to come.

Ollie’s Trolley

978 S Third Street
(Corner of Kentucky & Third)
Louisville, Kentucky
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cash Only

All photos by Alan Cornett

1 cornett mug

Alan Cornett is chief eater and writer for EatKentucky.com. A native of Clay County, he has been eating in Kentucky for decades. Follow Alan as he eats his way through the Commonwealth, exploring its restaurants and foodways. Alan lives, eats and writes in Lexington.

To read more EatKentucky columns, click here.

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