Katy is emerging as the next hot suburb for dining. Already home to outposts of Dish Society and BB's Cafe with a Little Woodrow's on the way, the western outpost is about to get another Houston-area favorite. After a months-long search for the right spot, Bernie's Burger Bus owner Justin Turner tells CultureMap he's signed a lease to open a restaurant in Katy.
"We just signed the lease in La Centerra," an excited Turner says. "We are directly in between Grimaldi’s Pizza and Zoe’s Kitchen. Right across the street from Trader Joe’s."
For Turner, going to Katy for his second brick-and-mortar location makes good business sense. "We have done so well with our truck out there. We partnered up with a good friend of mine, Vanessa O'Donnell at Ooh La La Sweets. We were there for four or five months and did dramatic food truck numbers," Turner explains. "It was just a great opportunity for me to get close to the neighborhood where I’ve done so well as a food truck."
If all goes according to plan, Turner expects to be open in September. He's already a little ahead of schedule, because he was optimistic about this deal getting done. "Without having the lease being signed, we’d already started working on the inside pieces like the furniture and storefronts, which are finished."
Once again, Collaborative Projects will be handling the design, which will include the other half of the bus that houses the Bellaire location's kitchen. Overall, Katy's biggest changes will be a smaller patio and, more importantly, a switch from full service to counter service, which Turner says customers have been asking for at Bellaire. Still, he wants to preserve some elements of service that are in keeping with the price people for his burgers.
"People will notice right off the bat that we’re trying to make the experience as pleasant as possible, he says. "We don’t want a rat race where people are lined up to get food."
Thankfully, that food will be the same as the Bellaire location, but even then Turner notes that he's made three significant menu changes during the restaurant's first year and will likely have one more before Katy opens. That sort of innovation keeps diners coming back, or they can just pick a favorite and stick with it.
He's also contemplating introducing breakfast. "If we decide to pull the trigger, it will be at all locations," Turner says. "It wouldn’t be anything dramatic. It would be very sandwich-driven. We’d grind our own meats and make our own sausage."
Asked about his future plans, Turner says that getting Katy done took long enough that he's already looking at places inside the Loop for a third location.
"We’re very close to that one," he hints. "Stay tuned. We will be opening an inner-Loop location within the next 18 months, for sure."