Las Colinas - 2900 N Airfield Dr.
|Whataburger - 2900 N Airfield Dr. Irving Texas|
Rating (5 Being the Best)I say 2.5 stars. My wife says 1 star. I'll give it 2?
In Full DisclosureThe following experience was not unique, but typical of my experiences at Whataburger's around DFW. This particular trip simply inspired me to finally write about this local favorite. Nearly every native Texan I meet swears by this place... I'm not sure why.
That having been said...
It was a long day at the end of a long week. The Hurst Library Summer Reading Program gave free Whataburger Jr coupons for the kids. It had been awhile since I tried this place, I figured I'd give it another shot. This particular location was inside a Shell gas station.
OverviewThe wife and kids stay in the minivan, all playing hand held games and fully engrossed in their game of choice. I walk in, because I personally detest all drive through experiences unless absolutely necessary , irrespective of the restaurant or brand (it's just a thing with me). I'm already a little tense, because of previous experiences with this brand in other parts of DFW. So I take a breath and smile bigger than usual.
As I enter the the door, I'm greeting by the familiar look of a restaurant that was probably very popular... in 1985... and never had a make over. I'm greeted by the half-smile of a person who really has no passion for what they are doing, but hey it's a job. It's the same non-smile I've seen on every employee, manager, and GM I've met at a whataburger, except the GM at Roanoke. I think he actually might enjoy his job. However, he's the exception.
I hand her the coupons and explain "I'm here to get the free items from the Library Program, the kids are in the car." She looks at them with a strange face, and walks away, without explaining why. Her look tells me I've confused her.
The shift leader comes over and looks at the coupons, then me, and asks where the kids are. I tell her that they are in the car, and I point to the window where that they are just outside of. (*Note to restaurateurs everywhere - this creates a REALLY poor customer experience, but I already wasn't expecting much, so I didn't let it bother me too much). The cashier mentions a third time, "I just needed to find out if I could do it without the kids here"... they are in the car, just outside the window, which is what I said in the very beginning. That's "here" in my book.
I order their Whataburger Jr's and I figure I'll get one too since I'm here. They charge an extra $0.50 for cheese... really? Is this 1985 or 2014? As I'm leaving, I ask for a dipping sauce they have enticed me with through effective counter top advertising. That'll be another $0.48. But I've already swiped my card earlier, never mind.
We eat our mediocre flat dry meat with too much pepper, on decent buns. The Produce is ok, but I'm not calling it farm fresh. The onion were probably chopped a few days ago and kept in a cool but not cold place during the day. (I used to work restaurants).
Here's the thing. It's not junk. It's decent. I've had better at a park BBQ made by volunteer firemen, but I'd say it's better than McDonalds. It's not anywhere NEAR In-N-Out, possibly the antithesis of it. It actually reminded me of a Burger King burger, but not quite up to par with Burger King, plus Burger King doesn't charge me extra for cheese.
CostTheir drinks are more expensive, adding things that are normally free elsewhere cost here. All and all, if other people wanted to go, I'd go, buy something, and be happy. But it's not my first choice... probably not my tenth. Maybe my eleventh.
KidsMy burger eating kid liked it. But he too, would rather eat at In-N-Out.
Tips to enjoy it better...Mentally prepare for mediocre service and paying extra for everything. It's a decent burger, it's not bad, but it's nothing I'd endorse by any means, or throw out as a suggestion unless it's the only place open. Which brings me to my closing thought.
Final ThoughtsThere is one highly redeeming quality. Convenience-Time. They are open 24 hours! They serve burgers at 6 am! I have to give cudo's to any restaurant that will sell me a burger at 6 am. So between the hours of 2am - 11am this is my burger stop, it is better than a gas station burger!
I have had experiences where the burgers were actually better here, if you load up with sauces and toppings. As a pure burger, they fall desperately short, but in a pinch, I'd still make a stop here.
Tradition - In case the owners ever read this.I get it, you grow up with something familiar and you assign special attribute to it. It's the place you always went after the big game, the place you and the guys hung out after school, the first date in Jr High. It's the business that sponsored your school event. It was a family tradition to all go down to the XYZ and grab a bite before the movies.
These places exist all over the world. But it's not 1985 anymore. It's 2014. Food Network has created a class of customers called "Foodies". The standards are higher. Look to Wendy's who has made a big come back in a big way with their total redesign of everything from food to ambiance. Look to start-up's like Chipotle and Twisted Root Burger Co who take old concepts and throw a twist to create an experience.
This place isn't quaint, or traditional... it's just lost and forgotten. It needs a face lift. I'm confident that it could be a great restaurant. I think the elements are there. But it needs a total re-imagining. But if you do go for it. Don't half-heart it. Seek out the types of people that will make it a truly successful makeover - and don't forget to actively, passionately, and aggressively seek feedback from your fan base, especially through social media.
A Special Thanks!
The Roaboke GM who works mornings, big happy guy. He's the one exception I've seen to service. He asks all the right questions, he anticipates needs, he does real restaurant work. Hat Tip to you Roanoke Morning shift GM Man. Roanoke - 605 Hwy 114 (Sorry I couldn't remember your name).
Life In Fort Worth By Darrell Wolfe
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