Longtime residents of Henrietta fell into what can best be described as a state of mourning when The Burger Shop suddenly shuttered its doors in late spring. It seemed as though the Clay County icon, in its 43rd year, might be gone for good.
Today, the Clay County Icon, in its 43rd year, has come back to life, its take out window once again exhaling the smell of ground beef and flour tortillas.
Best known for its “World Famous” burritos, the walk-up food stand is under new ownership – sort of. Robert Admire, Taco to some, is reopening the family business after purchasing it from his mother Elaine Admire in August.
Robert had plans of reopening in September, but after spending two years away from the Omega Street business, discovered it had fallen into a state of disrepair.
Prior to closing, Elaine had turned operations of the restaurant over to other family members.
Three generations of Admires have worked at The Burger Shop since it opened in the summer of 1968, when the family moved to Henrietta from California. Robert was 10. In the sixth grade, he began working the school lunch rush.
“There would be a hundred kids per day, probably,” said Robert.
Robert had band class before lunch. He would leave the junior high school 15 minutes early, walk the block to The Burger Shop, tie on an apron and work the front window while Elaine took phone orders and cooked. Once the rush was over, he would head back to school, arriving 10-15 minutes after the lunch period had ended.
Robert is excited about returning to the restaurant, and said that if his mother were able, she would be right here with him.
The Burger Shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., though Admire admits he may knock off a couple of hours mid-afternoon for a nap.
Plans are to start opening earlier in a month or so for the breakfast crowd.
Burger Shop’s Tracy and Elaine Admire introduced Tex-Mex to Henrietta and Clay County
Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published in the Oct. 20, 1997, edition of the Wichita Falls Times Record News by then freelance writer Peggy Browning. It is republished here with her permission.By Peggy Browning Pioneer Sentinel Back before North Texas was inundated with Tex-Mex cuisine – tacos and burritos – Tracy and Elaine Admire of Henrietta broke new ground with the fast-food business.
They introduced the taco and burrito to customers in Henrietta and the surrounding Clay County communities.
The Admires had served tacos and burritos along with the usual hamburgers, cheeseburgers and chili dogs at their drive-in restaurant in California. When they moved to Henrietta in the late ‘60s, they brought their business, and their menu, with them.
The Burger Shop opened on June 21, 1968.
That’s the day Henrietta went into a sort of culinary culture shock.
“No one knew what tacos or burritos were,” said Elaine Admire in a 1997 interview. “We couldn’t even buy tortillas to make the burritos in this area. We had to order them from San Antonio, and they were shipped to us on the bus.”
“The man who painted our business sign even said, “I know about hamburgers, but what the heck are burritos?”
Local customers were reluctant to try the new foods, Admire said. But once they did, they came back for more.
Twenty-nine years later, the customers are still coming, and they’re still buying burritos.
“It’s a flip as to which sells more, hamburgers or burritos,” Mrs. Admire said. “It’s about even.”
Mr. and Mrs. Admire claim to have no secret recipe for either their burritos or their success. But the answer might be found in Tracy Admire’s philosophy.
“Put out your groceries and you’ll get your part,” he said. “Don’t put anything out the window that you wouldn’t eat yourself.”
The Admires moved to Henrietta because they were concerned about the problems in schools in California. During the turbulent ‘60s, the schools there were experiencing problems that small-town Texas schools only heard about.
With a little market research, nearby family ties, and a little luck, the Admires found what seemed to be the perfect place to start a new business. The Burger Shop remains in its original location, in the tiny red-and-white building that is so familiar to Henrietta residents.
The employees of the Burger Shop are also familiar to the folks of Henrietta. Three generations of the Admire family have helped to run the business. Customers have literally watched first the children and then the grandchildren grow up during the lunch and dinner hour.
And the Admires have watched their customers mature and grow up as well. Located just down the block from Henrietta Junior High, the Burger Shop has served lunch to several generations of students.
“The kids move off and then come back,” Elaine Admire said. “You’d be surprised how many come back. There’s something about a small community that pulls at your heart strings and pulls you back.”
When the Burger Shop opened there were four other restaurants and two drug-store lunch counters in Henrietta. Those businesses are all closed now, but others have taken their places.
The atmosphere and menus of the new eating places in town have changed from hamburgers and chicken fried steaks to broiled chicken and café’ latte, but Mrs. Admire sees that as a good thing.
“The new restaurants and other businesses that have opened are run by people who have roots here in Henrietta,” she said. “People leave and see the world, then come back and bring new ideas with them.”