Bernie's Burger Bus has reached the end of the road. The food truck-turned-restaurant announced it would permanently close all four locations effective May 31.
In a statement, chef-owner Justin Turner cites a number of factors that prompted the decision, including the high cost of delivery fees and the rising price of beef, all of which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, the decision to use working capital to build Bernie's Missouri City location proved fatal, according to Turner.
“If we’d taken out a loan and kept that money in the bank, we could have survived,” Turner said in a statement. "Working capital can and does make the difference between who will survive times like this and who won’t — Bernie’s Burger Bus is proof of that.”
The closing is undoubtedly a loss for Houston burger fans. Beginning as a food truck in 2010, Bernie's earned raves for Turner's housemade condiments, creative fries, and decadent milkshakes. The "Detention Burger" — a two beef patties between two grilled cheese sandwiches — gave the restaurant a visually stunning sandwich perfectly suited for the Instagram age. Bernie's ranked 64th on CultureMap's list of Houston's top 100 restaurants for 2019.
With three of the locations — Heights, Katy, and Missouri City — already closed during the coronavirus pandemic, Bernie's will bid its customers farewell from its original, flagship location in the Bellaire triangle. Turner invites customers to join him for one last round of "Principal" burgers and "Honor Roll" fries.
Turner vows this won't be the last Houstonians hear from him. Back in March, he told CultureMap's "What's Eric Eating" podcast that he had new ideas about his future. Recently married, Turner plans to take some time off before contemplating his next move.
"I have nothing but high praise for Houston,” Turner added. “You made my dream come true and over the past nine-and-a-half years, you’ve helped support the lives of hundreds of Bernie’s Burger Bus team members. Please continue to follow me on my journey. I’m fortunate to have options, and no matter where I go, my remaining staff will be by my side.”