In a fuzzy confusion of city limit lines, Patty Shack Burgers sits at 510 East Avenue K, just off Hwy 360 in either Euless, Grand Prairie or Arlington. It depends on which site you look at. Tucked away in an obscure strip of stores behind an old restaurant, it's not a place one stumbles upon, but it's worth seeking out. And plenty already have.
When patrons first step into The Patty Shack, they find themselves standing in the middle of the crowded dining room. First-timers are easy to spot because they don't really know what to do -- wait to be seated, pick a spot or go to the counter.
But this is where all the good stuff starts. The servers are on it. Friendly and eager, they greet and seat each guest immediately, then are very attentive throughout the entire meal. The vibe is fun and, with TVs tucked into just about every corner, there's ample entertainment (which, as you'll soon learn, you'll need).
With either 1/3 or 1/2-pound options for all the burgers, customers can build their own from more than 20 toppings, including bacon, 'shrooms, sautéed onions, ham, pineapple or mild green chiles. There is also the "Shack's Vintage Burgers" list with things like the Tooter that comes with onions, jalapeños, chili, cayenne pepper and cheddar-jack cheese. Or, my favorite, the Jethro with cajun spices, blue cheese crumbles, bacon and grilled onions.
All the burger patties are put together at a salad bar-style station in the kitchen. Ingredients like bacon and blue cheese are worked into the beef and formed into patties only after they have been ordered. That means there's no getting ahead for the kitchen, even during their busy lunch-time rush and, as a result, each order takes at least 20 minutes.
Customers get antsy and intently watch the dispatch of orders. But, again, the front of the house is on it. For instance, immediately after I ordered, my server politely said, "We make everything fresh, so this order will take 20 minutes. That alright?"
My option was to leave and go to McDonalds. Yes, it was quite alright.
I spoke to owner Kyle Bryson, from Arlington, about his burgers, the wait time and his servers.
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"I tell them 'communication is key,'" said Bryson. "People don't know that when they come in here, this isn't a fast-food joint. Unless we educate our customers they won't know that it's going to take 20 minutes, but that they're about to get the best burger they've ever eaten in their life."
The starters and sides on the menu are also made in the same fashion. The Shack Sticks, which are fried jalapeño and onion slivers, are tossed and breaded in big sliver bowls only after they have been ordered. Corn nuggets, sweet potato fries and onion rings all come out piping hot.
The Patty Shack has five beers on tap and will soon bring in fifteen more as they add on 2,000 square feet to accommodate the growing crowds. They are also expanding their kitchen so that Chef Jelani Ellis has a little more elbow room.
The trick is to go hungry, not famished. Give yourself that 20-minute buffer before you fall into Diva theatrics. It's worth the wait.