A relatively new restaurant on Burnet Road is Hat Creek Burgers. I enjoy their hamburgers and grilled chicken burgers. If you like shoe string french fries, they have good ones.
Prior to being Hat Creek, the building for years housed Arby’s. I can’t say that I was a fan but enough people were to keep it open at that location for several decades. A friend of ours worked there while we were in college in the 70’s. I think he was the night, assistant manager (there were two night employees, him and the manager). This friend was not known for his hygiene so I refused to eat there when I visited one night. I guess the manager caught on quickly because our buddy didn’t last there long.
Still not sure how the Burnet Road Arby’s lasted so long.
BTW, there is a new BBQ joint across the street called Dickey’s, I think. I need to try it out.
I’m not crazy, I promise, but I seem to recall a locally owned hamburger joint at the northwest corner of Burnet and Hancock (just down from the Americana Theater and catty-cornered from Jorge’s) called “Whopperburger”. This was, of course, before the Burger King chain and their trademarked “Whopper” hamburgers entered the Austin market.
Whopperburger featured both drive thru and sit down service, really good (and really big!) burgers and to top it all off, a giant, inflatable chef atop the building.
The business was in operation during the late ’60s, early ’70s. My brother and I used to go there and get burgers to go on Saturday afternoons after we’d spent the morning mowing the grass and working in the yard. Guess who did the most work?
I’m guessing that once Burger King restaurants started opening in Austin in the mid ’70s, Whopperburger’s days were over. But boy, did they have good hamburgers!
Any one else out there recall the giant, inflatable chef on the roof and those wonderful burgers? I can’t be the only person who remembers this place.
I’d like to recognize a business on Burnet Road that is still open and doing business (and doing quite well it appears), rather than some ancient used-to-be that only a handful of people besides myself can still recall.
The business is the Top Drawer Thrift Store at 4902 Burnet Road. I don’t know how long it’s been there, seems like forever. Judy and I went there for our first time earlier this summer and had a great time looking around. The store has tons of great vintage stuff (clothing, housewares, stereo equipment, some books, some DVDs, lots of other odds and ends). I found a way cool vintage bowling shirt that, for five bucks, I couldn’t resist.
The inventory changes constantly, the prices are extremely reasonable and the folks behind the counter friendly and helpful. We had a great time on our first visit to Top Drawer and I guarantee you we’ll be back.
Anybody out there remember a Burnet Road seafood restaurant named Zuider Zee? Located where Hancock t-bones into Burnet, this chain seafood restaurant sported a very large, very fake windmill facade in an attempt to look authentic and Dutch-like. And who doesn’t think of the Dutch when they think of quality seafood?
The restaurant opened sometime in the late 1960s and I recall eating there only once. The Zuider Zee restaurant chain soon went out of business and the space re-opened as Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition (there’s another great name for a seafood restaurant). Martin was a restaurant owner out of Fort Worth who expanded into the Austin market in the early 1970s.
Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition featured, somewhat ingenuously, an all-you-can-eat catfish dinner. Terry Porter, Steve Cook and I put that claim to the test one night. We ordered the catfish and once we had received our initial order, we asked the waitress to please bring us another plate of fish. She took her time and finally brought us a plate with a total of three pieces of catfish on it. I guess she figured “three customers, three pieces of fish”. We each took a piece of fish and asked her to bring us some more. We were hungry college students and we could eat a lot of catfish but she refused to bring us an entire plate full of fish for us to consume before bringing more food.
This went on for a while but we didn’t give up. When someone advertises “all-you-can-eat” for us, it meant all we could eat and we were determined to do so.
Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition closed not long afterwards. I don’t know if our voracious appetites played a part in the restaurants’ demise or not. The building housed the offices of several eye doctors for many years and the last time I was in there was to get my eyes examined several years ago.
I drove by the other day and noticed a new structure has been built on the lot. I don’t know what tenants will reside there but at least the building doesn’t have a giant, dorky windmill on the front.
Since I mentioned it in my last post, I thought I’d say a few words about Sound Warehouse (or Sound Whorehouse as it was sometimes referred to) on Burnet Road in Austin, Texas.
I shopped there a lot in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was a fairly decent record store (remember those?) and when the home video revolution happened in the 1980s, SW was one of the few retail outlets in town that sold pre-recorded, theatrically released movies in both VHS and Beta format. Granted, those babies didn’t come cheap but I do remember buying VHS copies of SUPERMAN, STAR WARS and other titles at Sound Warehouse.
The store also had a small, self-contained section for classical music recordings and during the 15 minutes of my life that I was actually interested in classical music, I bought a few Wagner CDs there (“They’re having a sale on Wagner records, Max, Wagner!”).
The building now houses a Junior League Thrift Shop that Judy and I visited earlier this summer. Didn’t find anything of interest and walked out empty handed.
I have many, many Burnet Road memories. In fact, there are too many to cover in just one short post.
I’ll start by dredging up an obscure restaurant memory. Anyone out there remember Lum’s Restaurant? It was on the west side of Burnet Road in a semi-modern looking building (which is still there). It’s just north of Top Drawer Thrift Shop and across the street from what used to be Sound Warehouse, which is now a Junior League Thrift Store.
Lum’s was a short-lived novelty chain restaurant that opened in the late ’60s. It didn’t last long thanks mainly to it’s somewhat limited appeal. The main selling point for Lum’s was so proudly proclaimed on their sign “hot dogs cooked in beer”. Yep, that was just about the only thing on the menu.
I ate there once when I was about 12-years-old and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Imagine, eating food, any food that had been cooked in real beer! What a treat! What a novelty! What a disastrous business model!
I arrived at the University of Texas at Austin for my freshman year in August 1976 – a week before school started. My best friend/roommate and I were intent on spending those last few dollars we had in our pockets – the ones that were supposed to last us through the end of August. So, against any possible logic, we decided to have one last hurrah and go out and have a nice dinner on the Saturday night before school started.
The restaurant we found (sans the internet, mind you) was a seafood place in North Austin, somewhere near Burnet Road – might have been Bill Martin’s Fourth Edition, and when we finally got there we saw trees outside, lit with tiny white lights. It was enchanting and spellbinding. I wish I had the original map we used to find the place – or maybe we called the restaurant and they gave us directions. What I do remember was being away from home, in the coolest city ever, and having a real adventure driving from UT and trying to find the restaurant with my best friend. It took hours to get there – and we just barely made it in before they stopped serving dinner.
I’ve never had the chance to go back and find that magical strip center with the great seafood where we’d eaten and heard this amazing Crystal Gayle type of performer and had our first adult dinner without our parents. For years I’ve tried to find that place near Burnet Road and I’ve wondered where it was and how I got there.
About two summers ago, I was driving down Burnet Road after dark and I suddenly realized that this was the street where we had gotten lost, the one the restaurant was close to – the restaurant where I’d had the best scallops ever. I turned left on Anderson Lane and realized that the Village Shopping Center was the mall (square not a strip) where the remarkable journey ended.
I’m not sure how I missed it all these years I’ve lived in Austin – but suddenly, I was able to see every bit of the charm of Burnet Road, like it was 1976 again…
I have great memories of Burnet Road and I still frequent numerous establishments. I probably played a couple of hundred rounds of “golf” at the old Putt Putt. And wasn’t Green Acres mini golf on BR? My dad was good friends with Frank who owned, and still owns, Home Lumber. If you need to match a piece of trim board for an old house, Frank will have it. My mother dragged me shopping every Friday morning to HEB and Handy Andy. My first job was at Handy Andy, sacking groceries for $1.36 per hour.
We sneaked Don Wallace into Burnet Drive-In in my 65 Mustang trunk. We let him out for the second feature, as I recall. It was nice to park on the back row because you didn’t have to walk up to the restroom to relieve yourself. Got caught by the infamous “drive in gestapo” once. Lawn chairs and beer at the Burnet Drive-In was pretty cool.
Can’t forget the Frisco, both locations. When my wife was expecting our first child, we ate at Matt Junior’s El Rancho. That wasn’t open too long but it was great. Liked to eat at the old Dart Bowl on Saturday mornings. Best miga’s in town. The first Jack in the Box I remember stopping at, late 60’s?, was on the corner of North Loop and BR.
I caught a long touchdown pass in 7th grade at Lamar Jr High. 40 years later I watched my daughter compete in a Cross Fit event on the same field.
I remember BR ending at about Anderson Lane when I was a youngster. Of course my dad told me 45th street was the furtherest street north when he was a kid in the 40’s. Lamar didn’t exist. Times change, not necessarily for the better.
I think I will keep calling it Burnet Road.
BURO Editors’ Note: The staff at BURO wishes to express our special thanks to Terry ‘T-Bag’ Porter for being the inaugural author on BURO!