The tip of the retro-look triangular roof on the new P. Terry’s Burger Stand points directly northeast toward its birthplace.
On Monday, the Austin chain known for both fresh burgers and the Googie-style architecture of its restaurants opened its first San Antonio location at 8443 Wurzbach Road, the sharp angle of the restaurant roof saluting the P. Terry’s Capitol Plaza location.
“We wanted to make a strong statement with the first one,” said Todd Coerver, CEO of P. Terry’s, who spoke Thursday with the San Antonio Report about the design for the restaurant and its opening. “It was really helpful and sort of serendipitous that the site set up to where the building would point back to the mothership in Austin, so to speak.”
The new restaurant at the South Texas Medical Center happens to be located next to another Austin import, Torchy’s Tacos. P. Terry’s has been working its way down Interstate 35 since last year, when it expanded beyond the 15 locations in Austin and San Marcos and opened a new restaurant in New Braunfels last fall. The pandemic delayed opening here until now, but Coerver said the chain will expand fast in San Antonio.
In addition to new restaurants planned for 530 N. Loop 1604 West near Blanco Road and 22607 N. Highway 281 in Stone Oak that will open in late 2021, P. Terry’s has signed a lease for another location at Loop 1604 and Potranco Road on the far West Side.
Founded July 5, 2005, by Patrick and Kathy Terry, P. Terry’s first restaurant opened at the corner of South Lamar and Barton Springs in Austin as Patrick Terry worked to fulfill a childhood dream to open a classic burger stand with a twist: healthier options.
The simple P. Terry’s menu is based on natural ingredients and scratch cooking, never-frozen Black Angus beef, chicken patties formed in-house from whole chicken breasts, and french fries made without trans fats and hydrogenated oils. P. Terry’s also serves a popular vegetarian burger, milkshakes, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Coerver said P. Terry’s is one of the few chain restaurant concepts with a central commissary kitchen, its own delivery trucks, and delivery drivers “that go out to the restaurants in the middle of the night every night delivering fresh baked goods.”
P. Terry’s began its expansion in March 2019 when Terry stepped down and chose fast-food veteran Coerver to take the reins. The former head of marketing and innovation at Whataburger and chief operating officer at Taco Cabana — both San Antonio-based brands — had long been a fan of P. Terry’s.
Coerver believes there’s room for the brand in a town that’s already home to countless chain restaurants serving up the national dish and a growing number of locally owned burger joints that have engaged in some juicy burger wars.
“I don’t think the burger consumer is all that different from Austin and San Antonio,” he said. “I think everyone’s looking for great quality food at a reasonable price. So I think that incredible value is what makes the brand translate.”
Last September, the company decided it would increase wages to $15 an hour and implemented the pay raise in January. Menu prices went up as a result; a hamburger now costs about 5 cents more.
“If the pandemic taught us anything, it taught us how much our people mean to us and how much they mean to the success of this business and our folks,” Coerver said. During the past year, “they were walking through fire for us to keep those restaurants open.”
Coerver has two favorites on the P. Terry’s menu. His “splurge” of choice is a double cheeseburger with grilled jalapenos and onions, no lettuce, no tomato. “I like to have no cold produce on there because it makes the burgers so much hotter and more gooey,” he said.
But when he’s “trying to keep the pounds off,” he goes for the grilled chicken burger sans the bun.
Coerver said he plans to be at the new San Antonio restaurant on opening day. “It’s also the 16th anniversary of our brand so it’s our birthday,” he said. “We couldn’t think of a better present — launching San Antonio.”