AUSTIN (KXAN) — For 17 years, P. Terry’s Burger Stand has been a mainstay in Austin’s fast food scene, a brand born out of its first location at the intersection of Barton Springs Road and South Lamar Boulevard.
As the local burger chain gears up for its 29th location, P. Terry’s CEO Todd Coerver said the business is constantly working 14 months out to prep for new locations — with the Houston metro on the company’s horizon.
In 2023, three new locations will come online in the Austin metro, with planned openings in Bastrop, east Austin and Cedar Park. When it comes to eyeing a new location, Coerver said it’s a threefold conversation based on population density, the target demographics of potential customers in the area and if surrounding tenants would support business.
“Who are the right businesses for us to be next door to, across the street from, that’s going to draw that similar type of customer?” he said. “Those are the main things we look for when we’re identifying a new site.”
When it comes to population density, Coerver said Austin’s own population and economic boom have paved the way for prime company growth. As an Austin-born and bred business, P. Terry’s already benefits from brand recognition and awareness, he said.
But when it comes to expansions, he said the business’ centralized commissary kitchen and local management structure means it’s easier to bring new locations online and keep the quality of its products fresh.
“You love growing in your own hometown,” he said, adding: “We add a new location here in Austin, those routes are already defined — we’re just adding another location onto an existing route. So there’s all kinds of efficiencies that are gained when you’re just continuing to infill in an existing market.”
How does P. Terry’s consider new locations?
The P. Terry’s commissary kitchen is a relatively unique feature in fast food company production. The company’s centralized kitchen means there’s a 24/7, localized operation of desserts, chicken patties and proprietary recipes made locally before company-owned trucks transfer the products to respective locations.
That sense of fresh products is a critical balancing act when branching out to new burger stands, Coerver added. He said Central Texans have grown an affinity for their products; that food quality and customer service need to be maintained, even as the business expands into new territories.
“We have a saying here that we will only grow as fast as we can replicate the magic,” he said. “And if that ever starts getting a little shaky on the rails, then we’ll take the brakes and call a timeout and regroup.”
As new locations prep to open, general and area managers coming in from outside the company are brought online at least six months before the burger stand opens to integrate into the company culture, its customer service expectations and the nuances that go into replicating the business.
“Those are critical moments for us to make sure we can replicate that magic at a new stand when it does open, and that we’re not compromising who we are and what we’ve meant to people for so long,” he said.
What’s next for P. Terry’s?
While P. Terry’s has become a beloved brand to Central Texans, what’s on the horizon for the company and where might it expand next? For now, the eyes are turned toward Houston, Coerver said.
In conversations with P. Terry’s founder Patrick Terry, Coerver said neither anticipate an expansion beyond Texas will come during either of their lifetimes. That benefits, in part, from knowing Texas markets extremely well, while also relying on Texas’ sheer geographic and population sizes to support ample in-state growth.
“We could literally put several hundred locations in Texas before we have to think about moving outside the state. That’s just how big Texas is from a population and geography standpoint,” he said. “So in terms of the immediate horizon for us, we’re going to continue to grow in Central Texas, in the Austin and San Antonio metro areas, and those areas in between and up and down I-35. And then, next stop for us, we’ve got Houston in our sights.”