Add another patty to Houston’s sizzling burger scene. Already home to options ranging from Whataburger to national chains like Shake Shack and homegrown success stories like Bernie’s Burger Bus, the area will soon welcome its first outpost of California-based cult favorite In-N-Out Burger.
Add Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes to the list. The Plano-based restaurant already operates approximately 90 outposts nationwide; now it has plans to open as many as 25 locations across the Houston area, which will eventually bring 500 jobs to the city.
“We’re a Texas brand, born and bred in Texas. Houston is an amazing city,” president and COO Tony Darden tells CultureMap. “It makes complete sense cause of where we are and where we’re founded. Not to have a presence in Houston doesn’t seem right.”
Although the company hasn’t signed any leases yet, Darden rattles off a number of neighborhoods the restaurant is targeting, including Cypress, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, and inside the loop. The goal is to open the first restaurants approximately a year from now.
“We have our development plan in place. We have our areas where we want to be. It’s just a matter of finding the right partner,” Darden says. “We have certain things we’re looking for. We just want to make sure we’re aligned.”
Currently, the company is seeking franchisees for different territories within the metropolitan area. Darden says prior experience in the restaurant isn’t necessary, but people should demonstrate both a willingness to serve others and passion for what they do.
“They’ve got to have a hospitality gene. If you are going to be in the restaurant industry, you’ve got to enjoy serving others,” he says. “The second is having a strong business acumen; someone who makes decisions for the long term. We want to grow this business over time.”
From Darden’s perspective, the restaurant offers its franchisees a compelling menu that draws customers. That starts with fresh, Certified Angus beef, hand-cut french fries, and milkshakes made with real ice cream.
Although the restaurant offers a few defined combinations of toppings, it encourages customers to build their own with different patty options (beef, turkey, or veggie), buns (potato, multigrain, lettuce, or gluten-free), five different cheeses, 10 different vegetables, and nine different sauces. Mooyah tries to make things easy, whether customers are dining in, getting something to-go, or using a delivery app.
So what does Darden recommend for people making their first visit?
“Double cheeseburger with bacon with french fries and a mint chocolate chip shake,” he says. “I just had that yesterday.”