El Pasoan-Jewish food truck Jewboy Burgers is opening a new restaurant at 5111 Airport Boulevard, taking over what had been Cluck-N-Burger’s space, in the North Loop area. As owner Mo Pittle aims to open the physical restaurant in the fall, tentatively on Tuesday, September 1, he plans on closing down the Rosedale truck on 5000 Burnet Road permanently after Saturday, August 22.
“My concept is based on two cultures that both share a love of food,” Pittle said, referring to Jewboy’s cuisine influences: the Tex-Mex fare from his hometown of El Paso and his Jewish upbringing, though the food is not kosher. “But above that, the love of eating together.” He wants the future Jewboy Burgers restaurant to feel like a diner and become a gathering place for the community that comes along with that dining experience.
“Fancy restaurants and formal dining experiences are wonderful,” Pittle said, “but I’ve always liked the informality of diners and the true happiness that comes from them.” He continued: “I’ve always had a thing for old diners and the way the cooks and customers interact.”
However, Pittle knows that the social aspects of a diner is impossible for now, though, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and social distancing requirements. But, “until then, I am comfortable that, given the current state of the world,” he said, “we can start to get there from day one.”
With the new counter-service restaurant, Pittle wants to expand with El Paso burrito, aka border-style. He describes this burrito style as “longer and thinner and almost always handheld,” also noting that both ends of the burrito are open (as opposed to wrapped and closed). “It’s a much simpler dish,” he explained, compared to burritos found at Freebirds and Chuy’s, “with rarely more than one or two ingredients.” He’s drawing his inspiration from El Paso restaurant Rafa’s Burritos. One of the potential burrito fillings so far is a picadillo with latke chunks and queso.
Pittle also wants to start serving matzo ball soup, based on his mother’s recipe, something he has occasionally served from the truck. He also wants to play around with a fideo iteration, too. Elsewhere on the menu, he’s looking to expand with chili, ingredient options with more vegetables and chicken, and desserts. “I want to make sure I have a firm grasp on the safety situation before we discuss slices of cheesecake or pie, shakes, and other pastries,” he said.
Otherwise, the food truck’s usual menu will be offered: burgers, latkes (including the option of adding latke to a burger, as well as latkes drenched in melted cheese and hatch green chiles), queso, tots, and black and white cookies. As for drinks, the new restaurant will serve draft beer. Pittle is thinking about offering adding draft root beer, which would come in handy for floats.
Pittle appreciated the Airport Boulevard space because it “just feels like old Austin,” as he told Eater. He liked that there is a fenced-in patio, a tree that offers shade, and that there is a walk-up window, perfect “for customers who don’t want to go inside to pick up their order.” He also noted that the address was “offered” to him.
The restaurant’s novel coronavirus pandemic safety protocols are being figured out, but Pittle is thinking about still serving everything to-go when the restaurant opens, even if customers are dining in, “so we can limit the amount of shared utensils” potentially, he said.
During the pandemic, the sales at the food truck “have been solid and steady,” said Pittle. “We’ve been very fortunate.” The food truck model worked well when it comes to safety regulations, since he was able to “control the environment.” Currently, Jewboy orders can be placed in person, over the phone, or online
The Airport Boulevard address had previously been home to sandwich and chicken restaurant Cluck-n-Burger, which opened in 2019 and closed sometime in July. Co-owners Aaron and Kassandra Esserman explained that they closed because of a “massive decline in sales from the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage on available resources to operate,” as they wrote on the website.
The Essermans opened Cluck as a food truck in 2018, when they won the food truck competition Trucklandia Fest that year. The food truck will remain operational on a roaming basis.