A Recipe for Success – Great, Simple Food

David’s Burgers
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

David’s Burgers is the award-winning restaurant brand from Central Arkansas that marries the spirit of a fifties’ diner with the quality and simplicity of a fifties-style butcher shop.

Using the freshest ingredients – never frozen – David’s Burgers takes the flavors and food memories that survived in the traditions of his family and brings them to diners across Central Arkansas.

David’s Burgers was born when David Alan Bubbus decided to transition away from his career in finance just over a decade ago. Seeking a new beginning for himself and his family, a suggestion from a family member prompted him to consider a completely new direction.

The Bubbus family had a long history of successful food and restaurant ventures and there was a wealth of knowledge and experience from which he could draw. And, of course, he had a family, including his father, David Bubbus Sr. (called the “The Butcher Boy,” because he attained master butcher status at the age of sixteen), that would stand behind him every step of the way.

Family history
With family history on its side, David’s Burgers came to be. It was an affirmation of Bubbus Sr. and his sixty-plus years of achievements, as well as the fame David had gained for his family cookouts where he offered simple fare made with the best ingredients, prepared with love, and delivered with care – exactly what the restaurant set out to do.

“We take pride in offering a very focused menu. We feel like we can do a few things very well and want to continue to put that same intention behind out great burgers, fries, and chicken sandwiches,” explained Kala Strickland, director of guest relations and sales.

The strategy has been successful, seeing the company grow to ten locations in Central Arkansas in ten years. Its most recent location in Hot Springs is set to open soon and will provide that same exceptional quality and service.

From the unique quality of its ingredients and standard of its menu selection, to its culture, people, and service delivery, everything is intentional at David’s Burgers. Intentional growth, in particular, is the reason for its ability to replicate success across its locations as it expands.

Enter the commissary
Key to this growth is a well-designed infrastructure which is enabled by its commissary approach. Each of the restaurants locations is serviced by a centrally located commissary that provides freshly prepared ingredients on demand. No freezers and no microwaves – at David’s Burgers, only the freshest ingredients will do.

“When I first started, we were doing everything in house, prepping food in house, and as a manager that sometimes gets overwhelming,” said President of Site Services Will Davis, who has grown with the company.

The commissary facilitated a shift in focus for management, who could instead focus on the guest relationship with confidence knowing that food quality would be optimal and that they could optimize space in their restaurant sites as well.

“We have a team,” Davis says, “that works everyday trying to find the best possible products available. We try to source locally – from local farms and local distributors – and we’re constantly trying to find the best possible ingredients to put out there.”

That includes freshly ground Grade A choice chuck and the use of a proprietary, patent-pending burger tool in the preparation of its burgers, as well as a new, delicious, chicken sandwich offering and never-ending fresh-cut Idaho potato fries.

At David’s Burgers, you really can’t go wrong. That’s especially true when it comes to price. Despite rising food costs and supply constraints, prices at David’s Burgers remain fair and portion sizes remain ample to ensure that its guests don’t go home hungry.

“The owners give us permission to just love on our guests,” explained Creative Director Ryan Rooney of the freedom to deliver a truly authentic guest experience, and the positive work culture that empowers team members to go above and beyond for guests.

People business
“While we are in the burger business, we’re mostly in the people business and we want to make sure our crew is taken care of as well as our guests,” Strickland says. This can be said to be particularly true of the way David’s Burgers pivoted during the COVID pandemic.

When in-person dining was temporarily halted, the team at David’s Burgers prioritized the safety of its guests and associates, while also improving access to its affordable, delicious menu items. As Rooney explains it, “we beefed up our drive through.” The company also established a partnership with Door Dash to provide delivery.

Now that lobbies have reopened to in-person service – whether guests choose to order at the nostalgically designed glass meat counter, or opt for the expanded drive through, or go for delivery – the only thing that’s changed is the personal protective equipment (PPE) now donned by staff. David’s Burgers locations have always been immaculate examples of perfectly cleaned and cared for food venues.

For the love of chicken
Not only has David’s Burgers expanded, the Bubbus family has embarked on a new venture – Jess’s Chicken. Jess’s will bring the commitment to quality, safety, and service that guests have come to expect and will once again pay homage to the family’s past.

According to Strickland, “Chicken has been in our DNA since the beginning. Before we ever had the burger restaurants, Mr. David had a chain of chicken restaurants that we called Chicken Country.” So successful was the project, in fact, that it had grown to 67 locations before its acquisition by Church’s.

“Mr. David always had a love of chicken,” Strickland says, “so with the new restaurant he’s able to focus on the chicken while at David’s we can focus on his time being a master butcher. It’s a different venture, a different avenue of what we love to do.”

Named for David Alan Bubbus’ wife, Jessica, who has been a pillar of the company’s success, as well as the growth and wellbeing of the family, it remains a truly family affair. Guests and team members are an extension of that family.

“We’re excited about having that same kind of intention towards our guests and crew,” says Strickland of the opportunity to transplant the energy of David’s Burgers into the Jess’s Chicken concept. “While the food offerings may be different and while it may operationally work a little differently, that heart that beats at David’s will be the same at Jess’s.”

Future focus
With a tenth store on the way and Jess’s Chicken set to launch, the team at David’s Burgers is ever focused on the future, and optimistic that they will have a starring recipe for success at both brands.

“As we look at growth and where we want to be in a few years, we want to make sure that we have our existing stores, and that the footprint we have here is super successful and strong.

“But we are also always looking at different markets we want to be in, where we can recreate the hub of stores and the way that it works here,” says Strickland.

“It’s that attention to detail and making sure that we get those little things right at every level of what we’re doing operationally. From Will’s team in the commissary to how Ryan designs and markets our stores and the food, we’re about service and how we take care of the guest,” Strickland says.

This has come to be the standard at David’s Burgers, and it is what can be expected of Jess’s Chicken and any other venture the Bubbus family undertakes because they approach life and business with an open heart and the best intentions.

All this simply great food, served with warmth, has made for a great family legacy to be enjoyed by everyone lucky enough find themselves in Central Arkansas. And it comes from the Bubbus family to yours.

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