Patrick Terry, Owner and Co-founder of P.Terry’s Burger Stand, launched the brand’s first location on July 5th, 2005 in Austin, Texas. Inspired by classic burger stands like Mack Eplen’s in Abilene, P.Terry’s emphasizes fresh, all-natural ingredients — from its beef and chicken to fresh-cut fries devoid of trans fats. Beyond its signature burgers, the menu includes fresh-squeezed beverages, house-made veggie burgers, and baked goods. While P.Terry’s delivers modern quality standards, it retains the charm and hospitality reminiscent of ’50s and ’60s burger joints.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Patrick Terry shares what he and his wife had been doing prior to launching the first P.Terry’s in 2005
- Why the early days at the first location were miserable for Patrick
- What sets P.Terry’s products apart from the competition?
- Patrick talks about balancing a family-like culture and running a business
- What does Patrick hope for when a customer leaves P.Terry’s?
- Patrick explains how his brand has been able to replicate a high standard of product, service and employee treatment across 30 locations
- The pandemic’s impact on P.Terry’s
In this episode…
Most restaurants have high expectations for their food and service, but as they get busy with a multitude of customers, those standards can be easily forgotten. Is it possible to meet those standards and then replicate them across multiple busy locations?
What are the expectations for food and service at P.Terry’s Burger Stand? It starts with customers getting their healthy-yet-tasty food prepared correctly in a reasonable amount of time. It continues with each customer feeling seen and recognized, which co-founder Patrick Terry acknowledges is not easy for an employee at a busy restaurant. Regardless, he says that’s the goal — for the customer to drive away thinking, “I got personal service, I got a smile, and that really helped me through this day.” This is the standard at all 30 locations.
On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Rise25’s Chad Franzen talks to Patrick Terry, Owner and Co-founder of P.Terry’s Burger Stand, about the joy and difficulty of executing his vision of a classic burger stand. Patrick discusses the pain associated with meeting his standards upon opening his first location, how he and his wife implemented a family-like culture, and the keys to replicating those high standards at multiple restaurants.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franzen here co host for the show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called spot on restaurant, where they combined marketing software and payments all in one. They’ve served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcasts. If you have a b2b business and want to build great relationships with clients referral partners and thought leaders in your space. There’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more go to rise25.com or email us at email@example.com Patrick Terry co founded P.Terry’s burger stand in Austin, Texas with his wife Kathy in 2005. Now with 30 locations, P.Terry’s differentiates itself by using exceptional quality ingredients while offering a tremendous value. Additionally, P.Terry’s prides itself on taking care of their employees, and also the community. Patrick, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Patrick Terry 1:30
Great. It’s my pleasure to be here.
Chad Franzen 1:32
Hey, as I mentioned you and your wife founded P.Terry’s in ‘05. What had you guys been doing prior to that?
Patrick Terry 1:39
Well, I started in advertising when I got out of college, and I was in in Dallas at a large firm. And I missed Austin where I went to the University of Texas. And so I was trying to get back to Austin. And I became involved with to get back to Austin, I got I became involved with the state government. And we we we had 100 and 50th birthday, we call the Texas with Centennial Commission. And that I actually rank in that a long, long time ago, that got me to Austin. I met my wife. Later on. She was involved as a paralegal with a law firm. And I had done I was kind of that jack of all trades, master of none. saw myself as an entrepreneur of sorts, and I’ve done rental property around the city. I’ve done some consulting and marketing and advertising, which was my background. And I had always had my sights set on opening a burger stand for a long, long time. For some unexplainable reason. I wanted to sell burgers, fries and shakes. And so actually I say that, that it was a there’s no reason but there was I love the concept. I love the simplicity of selling something like that of all the things I you know, I got involved in in rental property, and I got absolutely no satisfaction out of it turned out it was a great investment. And I appreciate that. But on a day to day basis, there just wasn’t much satisfaction. My wife is extremely organized. And one time probably had a photographic memory just in those early days when you’re young and not that she’s old, but when you’re young and really knocking it out of the park. And so we kind of became this when we got married, we kind of became this team that allowed us to do this. It was she’ll tell you this was not her idea that opening up or stance was all mine. But But man, I couldn’t have done it without or, you know, the idea of getting involved in a business like this. And I had been in the restaurant business in previous lives. I’d had a little pizza place back in Dallas, and I liked the business. But you know, you there’s a reason you kind of get a lot of people get out of it, and then they get back in it. And it’s probably because they forgot how hard it was in the first place. So that’s kind of where we were when we when when I decided to pull up the plug in or take the leap and open up the burger stand.
Chad Franzen 4:25
So So you decided to do that you had some background in the restaurant industry. What tell me about the first location about opening the first location and what the early days there were like,
Patrick Terry 4:37
well, they were they were miserable. It’s it’s it’s extremely difficult and and I had I had set a standard. I was 45 ish at the time when I opened it and I so I done some stuff. I was kind of famous for sticking around on a project or For a business for three years, and then I started to get bored, and I’d either sell it or move on whatever it was. And I had determined that at my age, this was going to be my, this was it, I was going to do this, and I was going to finish out my career, selling hamburgers. And then when when the decision was made reluctantly, to call it P.Terry’s, because, you know, when you put your name on it, it does add a tremendous amount of pressure, if you give a damn about your reputation and how you’re perceived, and I do, so I knew that this was it. And I had standards in mind that were really hard to reach, you know, we were going to, we were going to serve a product that was unique, we were going to serve it at a price probably under the competition, which wasn’t selling the quality that we were selling. We were going to do it in an environment where, you know, fast food. And I know, it’s, it’s been changed now to quick service. But I’m old enough just to keep calling it fast food because I I know why they changed the name because it had a bad reputation. And and I was determined to bring the good reputation back to it. So So to answer your question, we had these these really high goals. And and so I wanted employees that that cared, I wanted, you know, I wanted a service that that that was back in the day, you know, that used to exist that I think is for the most part have fallen off. I wanted to serve a product that nobody else was serving, I wanted to consistent I wanted a lot of things and I wanted it you know, it happened to be in a 527 square foot building with a drive thru a walk up window, no real heat or no real air conditioning. And, and I wanted it done right every day. And so it was really difficult because I went through a lot of people. I just had a standard that we we weren’t going to bend to. And it really, really almost killed it was I you know, we worked in the restaurant, my wife and I worked in the restaurant, I ended up working longer than she did, because she got lucky. And we started having kids. And so but you know, the hours were incredibly long. It was you know, I would get in the I would get to the restaurant around seven in the morning and take the deposits from the night before I take him to the bank. And I work through the day. And I if I got home before 11 It was that was a good day. And it was seven days a week. And and we were creating things as we were going I didn’t have a lot of experience in I had some restaurant experience. But I didn’t have any experience in french fries. And the burgers weren’t hard. But the French fries were very tough because we serve, we serve a fresh potato. And many of the chains serve what’s called Kennebunk. And that’s a desert potato, our friends in and out serve. And it’s a year round crop. And I chose the Idaho, Burbank, which is picked once a year. And is is difficult because once potato is picked, although they do their best to store it properly, there’s going to be a sugar to starch ratio, the changes. And so you have to deal with it year round. You probably learned more about this than you want to know. But it’s a nightmare. Because you’re you’re cooking a potato in April that was picked in September. And you have to adjust the amount of sugar that’s in the potato. And by doing that, you have to put it in a warm water bath. And you have to do it for a certain amount of time. And that time changes and the temperature of the water changes. And so it’s literally a daily routine on on, on how we’re going to serve our french fries. It’s a pain in the ass and most people won’t do it. And that’s why I’m so free to talk about it because I can tell you how to do it every day. And in the end, you’re going to look at me and go Yeah, I’m just not good. And so So we had these, you know, the standards that we were just set to do. And you know, the hardest thing for a business owner if I can, if I can speak in general terms is when you are small. You you you are fairly powerless. You don’t get a lot of respect from your supplier. tires. And frankly, they are figuring you’re going out of business soon. So they just siphon as much money as they can out of you until you you go away. And so what you’re trying to do is get bigger. And, and at least from a standpoint of survival. And so I was trying to get to three stores, because I figured it three stores, it’s harder to mess with. And I would have some, some people behind me that I now had a couple of managers, I wasn’t doing this all by myself, and I was getting maybe a better price on my goods, because now I’ve increased my inventory. And so the whole goal was, if I can get to three, I can bring. And, and, you know, in this business, the second store can kill you. If you fail with the second store, then you easily can go to zero, can you can bring that one down, so and I was well aware of that I’d seen that happen with other businesses. So my second store was only three miles away from my first store. And I was willing to cannibalize a little bit off the first store. But I felt like I was safe. And also, you know, it’s an interesting thing, when you work in your business every day, as you should, at least I believe, so at least at the beginning, you get to know your customers. And what I was seeing was my customers changed on the weekend. And on the weekend in Austin, Texas, where my location was, there’s a river between one you know, one part of the city and another and across the bridge is, you know, there’s a psychological thing. And so on the weekends, people were willing to cross the bridge, they had time, they it was a Saturdays, hopefully, weather was good. And so I was seeing people in a particular neighborhood coming over on Saturdays and Sundays that I didn’t see Monday through Friday. And I remember saying to my wife, you know, if we can get a store over closer to that neighborhood, then we’ll see those people two or three times a week. And that’ll be enough for us to get through and survived that second location, which is exactly what happened. We’re very lucky. And then the third location followed right
Chad Franzen 12:19
up was, was it more difficult to maintain the standard or establish that standard and have other people follow it or to get customers and suddenly customers are not weren’t a problem?
Patrick Terry 12:33
Yeah, the customers weren’t the problem, thank God. Because, you know, that’s, that’s the one thing that you know, that’s the hardest. But we were, we were able to establish it I had, we had in the first location had been open for three years. And I had people there that I can trust. And so so I was able to go to the second location. And I brought some of those people from the first over the second. And we were just down the street. So it was manageable. It wasn’t, it wasn’t easy. Because I I had obviously micromanage the first store. And I’m not able to be both locations at once, which is kind of the nightmare of all nightmares when you’re, you have the mentality I have. So that that worked out. But you were always worried on expansion. And I know you’ve heard this a thousand times, and it’s because it’s true, you’re always worried on expansion, that either the quality or the culture will suffer or vote by expanding. Now I’ve seen it a thousand times. And you know, my greatest nightmare is to have someone say to me, Oh, I remember when you used to be that good. Are you you know, and that’s the thing that we’ve done this now for 19 years. And that’s the one thing that keeps me awake at night.