For Kelly Chappell, taking ownership of Top Notch Hamburgers in Austin was a personal experience.
The Austin staple has been open since 1971, and in 2010, Chappell bought it from its original owners, the Stanish family.
“I’m 50, and the restaurant is 51,” Chappell said. “I’d been eating there since I was a kid. I had my birthday parties at Top Notch.”
It took a little over a decade, but on March 22, Top Notch officially opened its second location in Hutto’s Co-Op District.
Chappell said he and his business partners, Chris Courtney and Jay Bunda, selected Hutto for two reasons. The first involved the city’s status as a relatively small, tight-knit city.
Hutto is also close enough to Austin that many Hutto residents are already familiar with Top Notch, which Chappell said was another draw to the city.
After more than 50 years, Top Notch’s menu of hamburgers and fried chicken is nearly the same as it was when the restaurant opened, and Chappell said he, Courtney and Bunda have taken great pains to preserve the appearance and culture of the original restaurant in the new Hutto location.
That same philosophy has extended to training the new restaurant’s employees.
“The employees’ homework is to go watch movies and TV shows with Top Notch in it—those things that have helped make it a staple in Austin,” Chappell said. “I want them to understand that.”
Now that the new location is open, Chappell said he is excited to get integrated into the Hutto community.
“We’re relying on our steady fan base to help us create the culture here and spread the word,” Chappell said. “We’re just doing what we’ve been doing all these years, and people will learn that a charcoal burger tastes very different from a frozen patty.”