“Big Burger V” by Eliezer Capetillo

11207 W Hardy Rd
Houston, TX 77076

Friday nights were very memorable at Big Burger V on the corner of West Hardy and Grenfell. Many people from around the neighborhood just hanging out eating a burger or sipping on a milkshake, and showing of their custom rides. People had all kinds of cars from hotrods, muscle cars, and lowriders. A car that is still very present in my mind was a 1950’s two door Chevy. I can remember that car like if it was yesterday. The red paint was close to perfect. At a glance it looked all original, but up-close you could see that it was heavily modified. The upper and lower control arms were chromed, including many of the steering components. The wheel wells were red and shiny like the hood. The original 350 motor, rebuilt to original specs, had many chromed parts like the valve covers, air filter, gas pump, pulleys, and the fan. The interior was restored to original condition giving it the old classic look, all red. Another car that stood out a lot was a 1970 Pink Panther Pink Dodge Challenger. Pink has never been a color of choice for me, but that car made pink look good. Everybody had their own car or truck with unique styles and custom touches that set them apart from the rest.

Big Burger V’s previous owner opened during the1950’s, it was only an ice cream place, its previous name wasn’t Big Burger V, Nick took over on July 16, 1973, naming the place Big Burger V. Cool cars and trucks were not the only thing bringing customers back, it was Big Burger V’s customer service and delicious food. At first Big Burger V struggled to bring in customers. Nick did not have experience in business, but knew sufficient English to ask a customer what he wanted. To make ends meet he had to open the shop seven days a week. Frustrated with still not bringing in enough income, Nick hit upon the idea of selling burgers, a successful venture.

Big Burger V has always been a good, clean, family-owned, old fashioned, no microwave burger shop. Its customer service is excellent. For example if you are not satisfied with your food they will change it, till the customer is satisfied. Its food is also some of the best in Houston Texas. There burgers are very good compared to many of the surrounding fast food restaurants, not to mention the serving proportions are also bigger. I can still smell the scent of the freshly fried French fries, and hear the sizzling meat patties as they are slapped on the grill. They only cook till you order and use fresh ingredients. The white and blue colors set it apart from all the other restaurants, staring with the blue porch that is not too flashy or elegant, but good for its sole purpose. The white walls and blue trimmings, give the small shop a very clean and welcome look. Many of the people that eat there are also very friendly. It’s an enjoyable place to sit eat and relax.
I had a personal talk with Kathy Nick’s wife. I asked her, how where they doing it to stay in business for so many years? And she responded, “To have a successful family business you have to be dedicated, honest, responsible, and treat your customers with respect. And treat your customers like if they were family members, show them you care about them, and over all excellent food”. She also told me that July 16 is a very special date, not only is it the day when Big Burger V opened, but on that same date years later Nick proposed to her.

Big Burger V is located in the Northside of Houston, it is very well known in my neighborhood. My neighborhood where Big Burger V stands is not as bad many people think it is. It just depends who you hang out with, and how you act around people. You’ll be good as long as you mind your own business and don’t mess with anybody. My neighborhood is mostly made up of Hispanics, but a big percentage of the people that visit Big Burger V are American. Some of my teachers from Sam Houston High School have many good memories at Big Burger V from their teenage years. My history teacher told us that when he was in high school he used to go there and hang out a lot, sometimes even skip school. He told us that everything around used to look different. Hardy toll road wasn’t built and were Hardy stands it used to be heavily wooded, and houses stood there. He told us that Sam Houston High wasn’t fenced all around and it was very easy to get out.

In September of 2008 Hurricane Ike hit Houston Texas. The day before the hurricane Nick and Kathy went to board up the place, but they had too many customers so they had to take care of them. Police stations were coming to buy food and many people from around the neighborhood too. They were so busy that by around 6 P.M. all the food they had was completely sold out. Days later when Nick and Kathy came back to see all the damage they were completely shocked. It completely destroyed Big Burger V. “When I saw the roof of the restaurant on top of the building next to us, I felt like if a family member was taken from me, we also had a very hard time opening the front door from all the debris”. -Nicks wife said. When I passed thru Big Burger V, I saw how the roof was completely torn off. There were pieces of roof hanging over the front edge of the building. I didn’t expect this much damage on their burger shop. They had survived many other hurricanes; I was thinking another one won’t hurt. The destruction was very devastating, not only to the owners, but the community, and its customers. Many teachers from Sam Houston were saddened by what had happened. They couldn’t believe that a place so memorable had been destroyed.

Luckily Nick and Kathy reopened seventeen months later, Many Houstonians and people from small towns awaited anxiously. While they were under construction a worker asked Kathy “Why are you spending so much money to re-open this place, you can probably get another place for cheaper”. When he asked that question many people started showing up and asking when where they going to re-open, so when the worker saw all of the people, he said “well that answered my question”. Nick and Kathy knew that re-opening and re-building the place was a good and smart choice.

February 15, 2010 was an incredible day for Nick, Kathy and their family; it was their grand opening after hurricane Ike. It was so busy that it was nearly impossible to find a parking spot. There were cars and trucks parked all along Hardy Toll Road. It was so crazy that people were parking from Shipley donuts on Little York all the way down to Big Burger V. It was a huge success for Nick and his family. Many people had to wait in line for four hours. As I stood in line I overheard many conversations, about older people in their teenage years. Many were saying that they used to go their when they were in high school, and now they were bringing their grandchildren. One conversation that shocked me the most was about an older married couple that met each other at Big Burger V when they were in high school. I was astonished of how this small place played a big part in many people’s lives, no wonder it was packed.

Going to Big Burger V has always been fun, especially now that I have an old school ride that I can drive there. Big Burger V makes me feel like if I’m going back in time, in the era when muscle cars were all the commotion and everybody used to hang out at burger shops. It brings back a lot of memories from my childhood.



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