No one holds Ronnie Killen to a higher standard than he holds himself. Even though Texas Monthly named his Pearland burger joint one of the 50 best in Texas after less than two months in business, the acclaimed chef has been relentlessly improving his offerings with recent additions like a full lineup of milkshakes created by Tastemaker Awards Pastry Chef of the Year nominee Samantha Mendoza and a patty made with ground short rib, brisket, and dry-aged brisket that earned a shout out from Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn.
Still, he knows that those first few weeks of operations didn't meet his standards. Some customers experienced long waits or overcooked patties. The negative reviews prompted him to bet $10,000 he could cook a better burger than one dissatisfied patron. It all got a little out of hand.
In order to apologize for past mistakes and invite people to revisit the restaurant, Killen plans to give away free cheeseburgers on October 8 (one per customer). It's basically Killen's version of a Shake Shack ShackBurger: a five-ounce patty served on a Martin's potato roll with a swipe of his Thousand Island-inspired burger sauce (see picture above).
"We will have 3,000 pounds of meat to give away," Killen tells CultureMap. "I might give away fries, also. We will definitely have free beer."
Even though he's turning his attention to his upcoming steak-meets-barbecue restaurant Killen's STQ, he's continuing to make tweaks at the burger joint by working with Martin on a custom, five-ounce version of its potato bun that will hold up to his beefy, 10-ounce patties. Take that, Shake Shack.