Saturday, March 31, 2012

6 weeks in, I chat with Jerry Built Burgers' Brooksy Smith

Affable Restaurateur, Brooksy Smith, One of the
5 Partners that own and operate Jerry Built Burgers 
Recently I was informed by Brooksy Smith of Jerry Built Burgers contacted me to inform me that their Woodland's location located at 1335 Lake Woodlands Dr. would be opening up on March 31st, just 6 weeks after their first location at 3501 Holcombe had opened.  Brooksy invited me to come out to the new location for a preview and to talk a bit about some of what he learned in the first 6 weeks of the Holcombe location being opened.  Since eating there when they first opened, Jerry Built has become part of my regular rotation of burger joints that my son and I enjoy.  And I'm always up to get the inside scoop on the restaurants I love, so I gladly accepted.

When my son Jason and I paid the visit, they were putting the finishing touches on their marquis sign and getting their last round of staff training done.  I was able to see their larger dining room (5500 vs. 4500 at their Holcombe location), and get a feel for some of the knowledge Brooksy Smith, Jerry & Chad Glauser and the rest of the gang had learned over the past 6 weeks.

Every Thursday it Gets Better

Blueberry Skinny Lemonade
A Dr. Oz Inspiration
This is something Brooksy said during our visit that I was very happy to hear.  I have made a few discreet visits to Jerry Built since their grand opening on Feb. 18th.  These have largely been late Friday night, Sunday brunch or weekend afternoons.  Every time I have come in, the Holcombe location has been busy, cranking out home grown burgers, hot dogs, fries and such.

In my experience, what usually gives a good local place like Jerry Built traction is a mixture of Word of Mouth and good press.  Jerry Built has gotten both, but thanks to social media, blogs and Twitter, the word of mouth has been a thousand fold.  There has also been a direct mail campaign where I've seen many a customer coming in with those black Jerry the Bull mailers to try a burger.  Every one of those customers has said they would be coming back.  I've also seen a fair number of Medical Students mixed with Rice University Students and Soccer Moms with full broods from West University Place.

Industrial bins and crinkler
at Jerry Built Burgers'
Woodlands location
Brooksy also dropped some good news about the parking situation at Holcombe:  he's getting ahold of some adjacent property and parking is going to increase TREMENDOUSLY by May.  This will be a relief for those of us that live closer to Holcombe, especially the lunch crowd that has passed the location by due to the full lot.

Brooksy also shared how they'd vastly underestimated the volume they'd be selling on their french fries.  They had to buy industrial-sized bins and an industrial-sized fry cutter.  These aren't the ones they use for restaurants;  they're the ones that Ore-ida and McCain's  potatoes use for making the stuff they freeze and sell to the public!  Brooksy was also good enough to admit that this was a nice problem to have in the restaurant business.

New Products and working up the learning curve

Customers have proven helpful to Brooksy and company on 2 levels:

Jason enjoying a Jerry Built dog
in front of blueberry skinny lemonade
and Ginger Bull Shake
One customer had noticed how the fries, which had been prepared properly, had turned mushy in the bag.  They made a few suggestions to Brooksy and some changes were made.  Specifically, a couple of the corners were cut out of the fry boxes, napkins no longer placed on top of them and bag tops no longer rolled shut.  This has kept the fries crisper and better tasting.

Another customer suggested a way to make sure day old Ginger-Bull cookies weren't wasted:  take yesterday's Ginger Bulls, crumble them up, mix them in a Vanilla shake and you now have their #1 shake at Holcombe:  The Ginger Bull shake.

Fried Egg Tomato Grilled Cheese
note the inverted bun!
Other Customers came up with an Ernie's Style Burger (with grilled onions in Ernie's sauce), a Grilled cheese sandwich with the buns inverted, and also a fried egg and tomato grilled cheese sandwich that my compatriot Michelle had while we sat and talked with Brooksy.

Dr. Oz also served as another inspirational source for a product.  Brooksy indicated that he'd heard Dr. Oz that blueberries are one of the superfoods we should all eat due to its antioxidant properties, and so he crushed them up and mixed them in with his fresh squeezed lemonade (regular or skinny, made with Splenda™).

I was given samples of the Ginger Bull Shake and the Blueberry skinny lemonade to try and I can say they are both very, very good and will probably have one of them the next time I swing by the Holcombe location.

Willing to Consider good ideas from Customers, within Reason

One of the main points I felt Brooksy made to me was that despite the challenges starting up a restaurant like this from scratch has been, he's been willing to listen to good ideas from customers that are within reason.  And if he's not able to go with an idea, request or suggestion, he's not ever going to say "I don't care."  He's going to explain the nature of the restaurant business and the considerations he has to make regarding food, cost and waste issues.  That's not something that a lot of restaurateurs would do, which goes to show as I've said before, Jerry Built Burgers is NOT just another burger joint.
Artwork inside the Woodlands location of Jerry Built

As an Economics Professor in my main life, I very much enjoyed a chance to talk about this business with one of the partners.  There were many insights I gained that I can use in my teaching and I was glad to get more info to share in the blog.

New Location in the Woodlands Opens March 31st

Saturday, March 31st, it opens.  It has the same great features of the Holcombe location:  the windows to watch the process, the in-house ground and crinkled fries, the in-house baked buns, the hand-jacuzzi washing station, but on a slightly larger scale.  I advise all my Northside Friends, Family Colleagues and Coworkers to pay them a visit at:
Same Jerry the Bull,
but Woodlands signage
restrictions make it a tad
smaller sign

1335 Lake Woodlands Dr.
The Woodlands, Texas 77380

Sunday - Thursday 11:00AM – 9:00PM
Friday - Saturday 11:00AM – 10:00PM

Go there and


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