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Hat Creek continues to hone burger offerings and app

Texas-based fast-casual works to tailor family-friendly market and serve communities


Hat Creek Burger Co., with 26 restaurants, continues to hone its burger offerings as it introduces new conveniences like a smartphone app and caters to family-friendly customers.

Drew Gressett, president of 26-unit Austin, Texas-based Hat Creek Burger Co., said in an interview, “We're still the same kind of family-friendly burger patio [and we] love being in all of the communities that we're in. We're serving and trying to partner with schools and various community organizations to make an impact.”

The company, which started in 2008 as food truck, recently introduced a smartphone app that has helped off-premises sales. It debuted its first brick-and-mortar Hat Creek in 2011. Hat Creek Burger has restaurants in the major Texas cities of Austin, Dallas and Houston.

“Like most people in the restaurant space,” Gressett said, “we're seeing a big increase in our digital and online orders and so hopefully this app will just continue to accelerate that.”

Gressett also leads the parent company, 1788 Chicken, which is a 50-unit franchisee of the Zaxby’s concept.

“They're both very separate and distinct,” Gressett said. “On the Zaxby's side, the Zaxby's corporate dictates and does all the R&D and menu creation and we just roll out and try to execute that to the best of our ability.

“On the Hat Creek side,” he continued, “we sort of wear that hat internally.”

While Zaxby’s has brought back its popular Zensation salad for spring, Hat Creek has introduced a first-quarter offer of a strawberry-feta-walnut salad.

The Hat Creek Burger name has its roots in literature and cinema.

“My favorite movie was — and is — a movie called ‘Lonesome Dove.’” Gressett explained, referring to the late Larry McMurtry-written tome. “There was an outfit that those [fictional] guys worked for driving cattle. It Hat Creek Cattle Co. and so Hat Creek was sort of inspired by that name.”

Best-sellers remain the Little Hat Burger with one beef patty and two slices of cheese, Gressett said.

“I eat a couple of those a week,” he said.

The menu also offers chicken nuggets. “A lot of people will get a Little Hat and a four-piece chicken nugget,” Gressett added.

About half the restaurants offer breakfast sandwiches and coffee, he noted. Opening times for breakfast restaurant at 7 a.m. an lunch-dinner stores are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Gressett said Hat Creek Burger is “a very community-oriented brand.” Restaurants work with students, teachers and community non-profits, including a foster-family group, he said.

Hat Creek also has been honored for its use of former baseball player Nolan Ryan-branded beef, Gressett said.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless

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