Friday, April 15, 2011

The Food Truck Diaries, Volume 12: Eat-a-Burger

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 6:39 PM

This dude was mowing on that burger.
  • Dude was mowing on that burger.

Witness a success story between buns, a tale of turning a food truck into a brick-and-mortar restaurant with hard work and a metric ton of serious spatula skills.

Food truck Eat-a-Burger opened its doors more than a year ago in an old car lot near the corner of Speedway Boulevard and Kolb Road. It relocated to the corner of Stone Avenue and Pennington Street shortly thereafter, and in July, after little more than a year there, the owners will take the restaurant indoors to a sit-down location on the ground floor of the Pioneer Building, right across the street.

Owners Christopher “Jass” Koster, a Tucson local, and Sineenart Wethatham met in her homeland of Thailand. The two ended up on mutual business later in Chicago, where they fell in love and got married before moving to Tucson around the time the recession hit.

There was an intial discussion of opening a mobile Thai-food operation (Wethatham still would; the project is on hold for now) but they decided to sell hamburgers instead, and Eat-a-Burger was born. Their concept: Focus on the meat, treat the customers like kings and carve out a little niche serving the downtown lunch crowd.

It worked, and after a year of selling as many as 100 burgers a day out of an outfit the size of a large broom closet, the couple is opening Eat-A-Burger, the restaurant, at 100 N. Stone Ave., Suite 102.

Koster says each patty contains 15 spices, and it comes on a lightly grilled bun with all the fixings for $3.50. They sell specialty burgers from time to time—including Hawaiian, Thai and Mediterranean hybrids—but all you need is a bite of a regular burger to understand what the buzz is about.

Burgers in this modern age can be so complicated. See: Lindy’s, Monkey Burger, Zinburger. Not that there aren't great burgers to be had, but a simple, good and affordable burger is a rarer commodity than one might think.

At Eat-a-Burger, a juicy, handmade patty is grilled and slapped between two buns with the expected fixings.They wrap it in plain paper and sell it to you for next to nothing. And it is good. Very good.

“Simple seems to have worked well for us,” said Koster. “We keep it simple and really take time and passion to make something that works.”

The new eatery will seat 44 people, and they’re expanding the menu. As we finished our interview, Koster handed a drifter a free soda while his wife continued to serve burgers almost an hour after the posted closing time. One wishes the best for these people, and I personally will be eating a lot more burgers from now on.

There’s more information over here.

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