Jones Reeder says it may sound odd to buy a restaurant to work less. But that’s exactly what he did.
He did it to spend more time with his family.
Reeder has worked as Executive Chef with companies like Texas Western Hospitality and G Texas Catering, where he was opening Executive Chef at a three-level new-concept restaurant in the Dallas Arts District. Reeder and his wife Natalie moved to Celina and now own a burger joint.
“You see a lot more of the same faces,” Reeder says. “You really get to develop a more personal relationship with people versus in Dallas.”
Since November, he and his wife have owned and operated Burger Fixins in historic downtown Celina. They, along with an additional five-person staff, do all aspects of running the restaurant, from cooking, to cleaning to doing the bills.
They’ve still put their fair share of time into the first year of ownership, from introducing a popular brisket taco breakfast to pushing for local and fresh products.
This is no hotel or downtown restaurant. This is a place where residents wait at cherry red lunch tables outside while sipping a freshly poured soda from a giant Styrofoam cup. Here, the fries are wrapped in a square of folded wax paper held closed by a toothpick.
The establishment looks about the same as it has for the past twenty years, Anna resident Larry Vigus tells me, except for the blue paint lining the shack’s borders and window sills.
“I’m just surprised it’s not orange,” he says, referencing Celina High School’s spirit color. “Everything else in this town’s orange.”
The blue lines even surround a sign advertising the sale of local honey. Reeder considered getting rid of the honey at first, but the sales changed his mind.
“We sell a surprising amount of honey,” he says. He has no idea why, but he’s hoping to make more of the food locally sourced, too.
After 25 years, the place has a certain notoriety in the area.
“It’s a landmark,” says Celina resident Chad Schramme.
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Schramme owns an office across the street, and he’s been coming to Burger Fixins since 2005. His son, Holt, is with him, wearing a Celina t-shirt. They practice football blocks while they wait for their food. Burger Fixins is the kind of place where Holt and his friends will walk over to grab a burger before attending a game.
“It’s good,” Chad Schramme says. “The kids support each other. The town’s great. Great atmosphere. Hopefully we can hang on to that tight-knit group as long as we can.”
Burger Fixins is a walkable distance from Bobcat Field,where the Celina High School games used to be held and where younger teams play football. Since the games have moved to the town’s new multimillion-dollar athletic complex, owner Jonas Reeder says the wait time on game nights has gone down because of a smaller crowd.
He’s still seeing growth, though.
Reeder says he knows about 60 percent of the customers by face or name—or phone number, in some cases—but there are constantly new faces and new mouths to feed. Now it’s all about shaving down the wait time and maintaining the taste of a good burger.
Burger patties are hand-pressed for a better texture and taste. Briskets are smoked in the smoker behind the shack. The meat, combined with a generous helping of lettuce, onion and mustard, provides a quintessential meal on a hot summer Saturday.
Soon, customers should be able to order food online for a faster turnaround. Reeder says the population growth may also mean a change in building codes, health codes, and even in Burger Fixins itself.
“I’m looking at trying to find something where we can have indoor seating,” he says. “That’s probably been the biggest complaint that I’ve had is that we have no indoor seating.”
The changes may come as an air-conditioned relief for some, but Reeder says other residents are hesitant to change and worry that he’s going to destroy the place that holds their childhood memories.
“We’re just wanting to make the best food that we can. So we’ve had ups and downs, but for the most part we’re running trend of what it was a year ago, and we’re trying to do everything we can to keep people happy.”