When Shawn Miraki quit his job as an elevator engineer to open Olive Burger (451 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson), he knew it would be a gamble. He took this risk, he says, in the name of family -- he wanted to encourage his hesitant father, Mark Miraki, to finally take the big leap and show off his cooking chops at his first restaurant.
Drawing help from his mixed-martial arts enthusiast brother and inspiration from Tony "Scarface" Montana, Shawn bit the bullet in pursuit of the American Dream.
Images of Scarface, The Godfather, James Dean and other American icons plaster the walls at this BYOB Richardson restaurant. And, like Montana, the Mirakis are trafficking a highly-addictive substance: the eponymous olive burger (No. 7 on the menu).
With its glistening slice of melted cheese, perfectly seasoned beef patty and heaping pile of saline green olives, it's a contender for your regular burger rotation. Once you've crossed that gateway, you'll back for your next fix, this time adding a bump of sugar-sprinkled sweet potato fries. Maybe then you'll try just a little hit of their specially formulated jalapeño ketchup. Before you know it, you'll be back daily to sate your cravings like a common junkie.
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The Mirakis are decidedly tight-lipped about exactly what combination of seasonings lends its kick to their habit-forming burgers, but suffice it to say that the flavor is more complex than salt and pepper, and definitely influenced by the flavors of their Persian background. Yet, magically, the seasonings don't interfere with what ultimately results in an American classic. Although their top-sellers are the house cheeseburger (with sautéed mushrooms) and the Texas burger (with bacon and jalapeños), they also offer some variety with items such as their gyro and Turkish doner sandwich.
The restaurant itself is on the small side, with a couple additional tables of outdoor seating. It's a seat-yourself, pay-at-the-register kind of place, set to the soundtrack of '80s hits like Diana Ross' "Upside Down." Olive Burger is not fancy or hip, so if you take a date, be prepared to rely on your own wooing skills rather than the charm of the atmosphere.
The Mirakis say their philosophy is to offer fresh ingredients, stressing that quality takes time. Shawn wants their customers to understand "We are not McDonald's -- this is not fast food. Quality takes time." So if there's a bit of a wait during the 12:30 to 1 p.m. lunch rush, be patient.
If there is a wait, you'll be able to entertain yourself easily. For starters, you could try picking up the quarter on the floor near the soda machine. But be prepared for people to mock you -- it's glued to the floor. (Maybe I found this out the hard way, maybe I didn't.) As for this family's wager on the American Dream, hey: They're faring better than Tony M.