God Bless Lakita Evans. She sold everything she had as a 23 year old to open Fat Ho Burgers in Waco, Texas. This burger joint opened up in late March 2011 with much fanfare because of its name, Fat Ho Burgers. You see, Waco, Texas is a sleepy city of 125,000 or so laced with more Southern Baptists than there are mosquitos in Northern Wisconsin. Not only Southern Baptists, but conservative, God fearing, anal Southern Baptists who will not take it lightly that their cherished city has a burger joint named ‘Fat Ho’
When she opened in March of 2011, the name captured national attention with the name. Living in Waco Texas during the weeks, I had several approach me inquiring whether I had been to Fat Ho. i had no idea what this was about. Finally, I decided to embark upon a journey to find Fat Ho Burgers, and to review the product.
Frankly, I did not know what to expect. Since I had not followed the hype in March, I thought this was a chain that came to Waco. Well, clearly it is not. It was started by 23 year old Lakita Evans, a college grad who sold everything to start this joint. She choose a mid-Waco neighborhood, largely African American, surrounded by small buildings touting ‘Gospel Missions” on the front, hand made signs. Clearly, Lakita is my soul mate for the gumption she showed by opening, and calling this joint Fat Ho Burgers, in this neighborhood and Waco, Texas. The opening weeks were a craze for this joint. The internet had gone viral, and lines outside this joint were 30 minutes of wait with the business running out of beef on opening day.
But here is where the sad part begins. After all of the hype, Fat Ho Burgers is left with the product. Gone are the lines that snaked into the streets. Gone are the uber number of peeps laying down an average of $7+ for a burger plate. What is left is a sign that still reads “Fat Ho Burgers, Coming Soon”; and a business that is struggling to stay going in a difficult environment both economically and in the neighborhood.
On this Thursday, assuming that their manual receipt book keeping is accurate, I was the 29th cover to come into the restaurant at 12:45p. Not a good sign for the business. At an average of $7 per cover, this equates to a paltry $203 on a day when the lunch business should be picking up.
Inside Hip-Hop and R&B was playing. You order at the counter. Today, their fountain drink machine only had regular Dr. Pepper left out of a normal 8 choices. You get the impression that these folks are not that familiar or experienced with operating a restaurant. Not a good sign. I ordered a combo of cheeseburger and fries, total damage, about $6.95. Now here is the difficult part for this business, the cheeseburger was actually quite good and the fries decent. The bun was thoroughly toasted, the meat flavorful with the appropriate fixings on the burger that left it messy and delicious. Never mind the food came out from behind a red curtain where you are not sure what goes on. The meal was good. Not what I expected, but good. I expected more branding of the name that flowed over into the plate names. While she clearly had attempted this with the naming rights of the plates, she could have done so much more. Their brisket plate is called ‘Sloopy Ho”? Really? Is this a misspelling or am I getting bad information? Clearly Sloppy Ho has to be a front runner, and maybe this is what they meant….how about ‘Bag Full of HO” for the really big order, or, ” Blow Ho” for the really spicy burger?]
I hope this place makes it. I will be back. It is not the best burger I have had, but very, very good. Some of you Waco peeps who fear certain neighborhoods just need to get over it. These people are real and nice, and the service showed that exponentially. On a scale of 10 big burgers, I give this a solid 7.
Check them out if you are ever in Central Texas…..if for any other reason, just to spite the personality of Waco, a city that has so much going for it if it would just get over its overt conservativism.
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