Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

June 21, 2012

Hamburger Town

Athens couple plans to restore Athens’ claim as the food’s capital

Athens — Robert Hurst and his wife, Stacy have decided to get busy restoring the reputation of  Hamburger Town.

Every fair-minded person knows Athens has long known been known as the town that invented the hamburger — despite counterclaims by unprincipled posers from other towns.

But even here, the really great burger places have been closing up in recent years.

The Hursts are former owners of Subways, here and in nine other locations, for 16 years, until “retiring a couple of years ago.

But with the burger business being what it is, they  were lured out of their comfort spot to mix it up with the burger Bboys the chicken houses are always talking about in their commercials.

To get them out of that comfort zone, it would take some serious location, and some serious location and some serious location.

They found it recently, in the middle of town, and off the square.

They started Monday and continued  through Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday morning. They've been knocking down some old structures owned by John Cain, to make way for a new “Mooyah” burger house at about 220 S. Palestine St.

No, they won't moo yah in the basket with their homemade, fresh-cut french fries  or their never-frozen meat.  This is serious Burger, and serious potato they're talking  about. So they need room to flex their skills, and for you to park your vehicles.

With that in mind, they began tearing down the old Crisis Center building, the old Dr. Ayers Medical Center,  and the Athens Car Audio House — the one that used to be a Goodyear Tire Store, managed by a youngster named Milburn Chaney, current tax collector for the county.

This Mooyah place is part of a new franchise, and the Hursts are getting in on it early.

It started six years ago in Frisco, and advanced to McKinney, Denton, Plano and Tyler.

Of course, none of those have the original Athens burger genes flowing through their arteries.

This sacred Athens dirt, come “Novemberish,”  will be a 3,600-square-foot establishment with seating for 45 people. The number of Mooyahs at press time was 36, but the Hursts admit it could be 37 in a day or two.

We haven't even mentioned serious shake yet.

Mooyah will have hand-made shakes. They didn't start doing business until 2005, but you know how it is in the Metroplex burbs. The things grow like weeds, if they're any good.

This place will not only offer the old-fashioned hamburger, but for health nuts, they'll have lettuce burgers. You know, those things where they wrap lettuce around the hamburger, and tie it with a toothpick?

So not only will they be serving fresh meat every day,  they'll be offering some items for weight-conscious folks, like veggie burgers.

The buildings are being torn down by Jared Smith with Dozier Service.

“All metal and tin will be recycled. The rock and bricks will be ground up to be used for paving,” Robert Hurst said.

The Hursts grew up in McKinney where her  father, a former IRS agent, went into business by a Pizza Hut,  and in their younger days Robert worked a pig farm.

Remember the Smithville Hams in Virginia and Premium Standard Farms in Missouri? He worked at  both those places for nine years as a pig man.

“I just decided I didn't want to work 80 or 90 hours a week to make money for somebody else,” he said.

They are looking for a tenant for their new business, but both said they plan to be owner-managers, and work in the new business, too.




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