For this week's cafe review, I visited seminal Garden Oaks burger stand Mytiburger, which nearly shuttered last year after 46 years in business. It did, in fact, close its doors...for two weeks. During that time, local Baskin-Robbins franchise owner Shawn Salyers stepped in to purchase the business from longtime owner Kathy Green, a move which saved the day for everyone involved.
During the final weeks of Mytiburger's run under Green, says Salyers, "a lot of people came in and told them what the place meant to her." Green was just as disappointed to close as her patrons and employees were.
Salyers, meanwhile, had been looking to jump back into the restaurant business after years away from the industry. His first job had been at a Whataburger when he was 16, and Salyers says that he "always liked hole in the wall places and older diners." The first time he visited Mytiburger during a break from his Baskin-Robbins -- only nine blocks away -- he was hooked.
"I just couldn't let it close," he says.
Salyers arranged a deal with Green under which she'd remain on as a consultant to help him get Mytiburger -- and himself -- up to speed, and quickly rehired all of the employees. "They were all unemployed at the time," says Salyers, "so they were happy to come back. Some of them have been here for 15 years."
Mytiburger's own history in Garden Oaks is a bit older. The restaurant first opened in 1967, at a time when 43rd Street was heavier on traffic than it is now. "It used to be a cruising spot," says Salyers, who's been busy learning the restaurant's history. "It used to have carhops a long time ago and draft beer for a quarter."
Although there's no longer beer served at Mytiburger, a few things haven't changed: The grills are still original, and your order is still taken, served and rung up by the same person who cooks it for you. Salyers has taken steps to modernize it, however, by adding wireless Internet and speeding up orders.
"Because it was an older place, it moved a little bit slower," Salyers says of the days when he was still just a regular at Mytiburger. "The few times I didn't come here for lunch was because it was I was in a hurry." He's now installed clocks behind the counter so that the staff can get everything out in 10 minutes or less. "There's more of a sense of urgency these days," he says.
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Salyers has added a few other things to Mytiburger's menu too, but I don't want to spoil the surprise. Read this week's cafe review for more on the ever-so-slightly retooled Mytiburger or simply head out there for lunch. Though the classic Texas roadside-style burgers are as good as they ever were, Salyers has another favorite he's eager for people to try.
"A grilled chicken sandwich on wheat with grilled mushrooms, Swiss and bacon," he says proudly. "It's my own creation."