Friday, August 12, 2022 Aug 12, 2022
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When Burgers Are the Family Business

My successful-restaurateur father discouraged me, but I pursued my dream of Liberty.
By Mariel Street |

Before I decided to open a restaurant, I studied linguistics and business at UT Austin. I am fluent in five languages, and I decided to do a couple of years in the Peace Corps. I ended up spending 27 months in the Republic of Vanuatu, a tiny island in the South Pacific. It’s not on Google Maps. It takes 24 hours to fly to the country, and then you jump on a six-seater plane, and it’s still a two-day boat ride. Once you land on Mystery Island, there’s one more boat ride over to the main island. I came back from the Peace Corps determined to do a restaurant.

My dad, Gene Street (the man behind the Black-Eyed Pea, Good Eats, and other restaurant concepts), tried to talk me out of it for the first two decades of my life. I’m one of six kids, and all of my siblings are boys. They always beat me up, so I had to learn to stand up for myself. I’m meaner than any of them.

Originally, I thought about doing tacos, but since the burger craze hadn’t quite caught on in Dallas, we chose burgers. There’s so much you can do with burgers, and I felt we could add creativity to an old-school tradition.

The No. 1 thing we do to set ourselves apart is we offer variety. We want the customer to really take control and feel like they have the liberty to build their own burger. Although we have our own excellent specialty burgers, we want and encourage customers to make alterations and take things out and add things in. We want them to make the burger of their dreams.

We’re lucky we’ve been able to expand quickly. We already have six stores in Dallas, and we’re expanding to Tulsa soon. A friend of my dad’s bought one and operates it in Jackson, Wyoming. It’s my dad’s nature to stick his nose in my business; he just gets so excited. He’ll always give advice and put his two cents in. But he’s definitely relaxed a little and knows I can do it on my own. But my older brothers who work with me are nearing the end of their careers, and I’m at the beginning of mine. I’ll end up selling it one day, but I’m still in the process of getting to that point. There’s still so much I want to get done, and my younger brother and I are developing a new concept for something else, too.

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