With the Inn crowd: Historic Ardmore eatery now under new ownership
On June 30, Greg and Jordan Elliott became the new owners of the historical Hamburger Inn in Ardmore. This father-son duo wanted to carry on the traditions of this locally loved restaurant for years to come.
“I’ve known that I’ve always wanted to own and work at a restaurant ever since I was a kid,” Jordan said. “I knew I loved food, I liked to make people happy with food, and everyone likes to eat, so it’s a pretty good line of work to be a part of. When I saw that Hamburger Inn was coming up for sale, I knew that is what I wanted. I immediately thought that restaurant is what my family needed. By owning this restaurant, we have the opportunity to be a part of Ardmore’s history. Hamburger Inn has been in Ardmore for 82 years and I don’t want somebody to change it. The initial thought of it all was just absolute excitement. This whole experience is really amazing to be a part of. At the same time, it was a roller coaster of emotions. It was stressful, because we didn’t know if we were going to get it. People were constantly bidding money on it. When we finally signed the papers and got the keys, it was just the greatest feeling of accomplishment.”
The two-month process of buying the restaurant was not a piece of cake for the duo.
“We don’t have a whole lot of cash just laying around to buy businesses, and so we only had a certain amount that we could put towards purchasing it,” Greg said. “I know that several other people that were interested in it had more ready cash than we did. Jordan and I believed it came down to who the previous owners thought would honor the traditions of Hamburger Inn and not completely change it. I believe they chose us for that reason.”
“The first day that it was on the market, I met with the realtor, did a walk through, and I told her that we wanted to put in a bid,” Jordan said. “About a week or two later, they texted us and told us that someone put in another bid and if we could get up to the asking price. We were kind of hesitant about it, but we bumped up. Later on, we get a phone call that someone else had just bumped our bid by quite a bit of money. My dad and I agreed that if we had to force it, then maybe that’s God’s way of saying this isn’t for y’all. We ended up finding out later that we matched the price and got to where the owners were happy with selling it. Waiting to find out whether we had it, or whether we had enough money on it was very stressful. Many well-known business people were competing for it and even people from out of town. It was a very fierce bidding war there for a little while. There were about ten other people that were interested in the building and the business. It was definitely a roller coaster of emotions.”
They decided to take on this journey together when they realized they couldn’t do it apart.
“Since me and Jordan are partners, we made an arrangement that best suited us both,” Greg said. “I understand the business side of it all, because I have had some businesses in the past, and through my experiences with Valero Refinery, I know how to manage money, budgets and things like that. However, I don’t know how to cook the food at Hamburger Inn. That is where Jordan comes into play. He is an owner/operator for Hamburger Inn. He is an employee that cooks and runs day-to-day operations as well as being an owner of the restaurant.”
The Elliotts were very involved with the restaurant long before they bought it.
“My grandpa, Earl Jenkins, actually started eating breakfast at Hamburger Inn in 1940 when it was Mr. Brown’s,” Greg said. “Years ago, I started going and eating breakfast with him, and then once I had kids, we took them too. Soon enough, that was our family’s tradition. You could catch us there every Saturday morning. It definitely has a special place in our hearts and stomachs. Grandpa Earl actually has a sandwich named after him called the Earl Sandwich.”
Even though there are new owners of the restaurant, the staff is still the same.
“Everyone has stayed that was there with the previous owner,” Jordan said. “The lady that makes the wonderful pies from scratch, her name is Brenda, has actually been there for 20 years. She’s getting to where she might retire soon, and I will be able to take over her recipes and her pies. I’m grateful that she agreed to stay on with us. We will be the third owners that she has worked for.”
Not everything is staying the same in the restaurant, however. The Elliott’s would like for the restaurant to be open more often for the convenience of the community.
“On July 31, we actually started opening up on Friday and Saturday evenings,” Greg said. “Once we start getting some business built up on the weekends, we are going to feature different specials, plus the regular menu like some restaurants do around town. Another change that we’re making to the restaurant is that one of the two biggest complaints about the restaurant is the limited hours and seating. We requested a permit for an outdoor café from the City Development Committee, and they have been extremely helpful and nice to work with. If they approve the permit, we are going to have a couple more tables out front on the sidewalk while still being able to have room to walk by. In the future, our plans are to fix up behind the restaurant to open up more seating in the evenings. Once we get those new appliances, upgrades in, and things rolling pretty good, we plan to be regular donors for Heroes for Hope and various other organizations similar to that. We want to be able to give back to our community while serving the people of Ardmore good, quality food.”
Running a restaurant with your family can be stressful, but the Elliotts are very excited to be doing this together.
“Five years ago, Jordan or I wouldn’t have dreamed of going into business together,” Greg said. “For us doing this now, we have grown closer and Jordan has really grown as a Christian man. This is something that we didn’t really hesitate to do, because we know that as a family, that we can get along and do this. We have already had some different opinions on things, but we work it out.”
“The day to day operations are extremely stressful, but I am thankful to have a partner like my dad helping with all of this. He is very business-mind oriented so he always assists me in making big decisions concerning all of the financial aspects of the business. My mom, Penny, is helping run the Facebook page and advertising, and my two younger sisters work there as part-time employees. I think by doing this as a family, it has given us all a role that we contribute to, so in the long run we can say that we all worked so hard for this, and that is really special.”