You may have heard … Austin-based Hat Creek Burger Company will be opening a new location in the Lake Travis area later this fall.
And with so many restaurants popping up in the Lake Travis area, we wanted to find out what makes this burger joint stand out among the many places to nosh on a big ol’ juicy American favorite.
It turns out that founder and CEO Drew Gressett’s business philosophy and practices are two things that you might find very interesting and admirable.
Can good deeds make a burger taste better? You be the judge …
LTL: Everyday your Burnet Road location makes 100 cheeseburgers for Mobile Loaves and Fishes. When and how did this partnership come about?
Gressett: In the spring of 2009, Alan Graham, founder of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Matt Freeman and I were sitting outside of the Hat Creek Burger truck tossing around ideas about how Hat Creek could give back to the community.
Alan and I partnered with Austin Ridge Bible Church and together we deliver 100 burgers from the Hat Creek Mobile Loaves & Fishes truck 6 days a week for the past 7 years.
LTL: You are also involved with Brookwood in Georgetown, an organization that helps adults with special needs. What exactly does Hat Creek Burger do for BiG?
Gressett: We work with Brookwood in Georgetown (better known as BiG) in various ways. Citizens from BiG work at Hat Creek Burger in Georgetown throughout the week performing many jobs.
We also sell the citizens homemade cookies at Hat Creek and 100% of the revenue goes back to BiG.
We host an annual Christmas party for BiG and the Georgetown community which includes a balloon twister, face painter, petting zoo, Christmas tree lighting and lots of other fun activities. 25% of that day’s sales are donated to BiG.
LTL: Hat Creek Burger also contributes to the Navy SEAL Legacy Foundation. Is there a special connection between you personally and the Navy SEALs?
Gressett: We have a special relationship with a commander who founded the Navy SEAL Legacy Foundation. We have played a small part of supporting this foundation.
We value and appreciate our countries soldiers who serve and protect our nation and it’s a great honor to contribute to the Navy SEAL Legacy Foundation.
LTL: Do you encourage your employees to get involved with the charities Hat Creek supports?
Gressett: We encourage Hat Creek Burger employees to sign up to deliver burgers to a local boys and girls club once a month. We have an established relationship with this club and these kids. They love seeing us drive up with cheeseburgers. Our employees get a lot from interacting with the kids, it is a positive experience for all.
LTL: Do you have any plans to support any Lakeway area charities when you open your new location?
Gressett: We are excited about our new Lakeway location and the opportunities that will be on the horizon for us in this community. We look forward to building relationships and seeing what’s in store for Hat Creek.
LTL: In your opinion, what is the business-owner’s responsibility to the community they operate in?
Gressett: Community is key to living anywhere. I believe that through relationships you learn what you can do to take part in your community to make a difference.
Hat Creek Burger has built strong relationships in all four (Burnet Road, Westlake, Round Rock and Georgetown) of the communities we serve. We have great relations within each community which include non-profit and for profit organizations such as BiG and Round Rock Express. I look forward to be being a part of the Lakeway area.
LTL: Do you feel Austin is a good place for those needing help from local and national charities?
Gressett: I think Austin is an incredible caring and giving community. Austin not only gives but they pave the way for life changing opportunities. It’s definitely something I want to be a part of, making Austin a great place for all people.
LTL: The Lakeway location will be your fifth brick and mortar. That’s a long way from the food truck you started in! Are there any bigger charitable goals you are hoping to achieve in the future?
Gressett: As long as Hat Creek continues to operate and grow, community and giving back will always be a part of our fabric. Giving back and being hands on in the places we live is definitely a priority.
LTL: Basketball was a big part of your life growing up and you are quoted as saying that if the burger-world didn’t find you, you would “probably be in a sport or at least something related to sports…”. Do you plan on incorporating your love of sports and your business in burgers in the future?
Gressett: I’m not sure how sports and business may play out in the future. But as of today, I am the father of three little girls and the older one seems to be into cheerleading which is, if I’m honest, what I did at UT. I’ve paved the ways for my daughters, ha!
LTL: Lastly, what made you choose the Lakeway community as your next Hat Creek Burger home?
Gressett: I think Lakeway is the perfect place for our patio, family-friendly, fresh cheeseburger and fellowship concept.
We want Lake Travis residents to have the option for their kids to play, enjoy good conversation with friends and family and eat some delicious food in an atmosphere that is fun for kids and relaxing for adults. We can’t wait to open our new store in Lakeway!
Photo Credit: Cathy Hale