Frances Maldonado Junk, who was behind two of Austin’s iconic fast-casual restaurants, the now-shuttered Fran’s Hamburgers and the still-open Dan’s Hamburgers, died on November 27 at the age of 89 after a fight with cancer.
Junk, also known as Fran, was born in 1934 in Cedar Park, Texas, and her family eventually moved to Austin. She had been working as a server at the Plantation restaurant near campus, which is where she met the man who would become her husband, Dan Junk. They got married in 1960 and opened their first restaurant, Dan’s Hamburgers, in 1973 on South Congress. The fast-casual drive-thru restaurant focuses on burgers, breakfasts, and more.
The Junks expanded Dan’s with several locations throughout Austin. When the couple divorced in 1990, they divvied up the restaurants between themselves. Fran turned her locations — that original one in Bouldin Creek and another on Cameron Road in the Windsor Park neighborhood — into her namesake restaurant Fran’s in 1991.
The South Congress location — which had that iconic statue of the owner holding up a tray of food and a guitar — was torn down in 2015 to make way for Torchy’s Tacos’s new flagship location in 2016. At the time of the demolition, Junk had told Statesman that “every beginning’s gotta have an end.”
The Cameron Road location had been home to a location of cafe Cenote from 2017 through 2022. That space is now being turned into a new bar, Busty’s Bar and Jukebox, which is aiming to open sometime later this month or early next year.
Dan died in 1998. Dan’s Hamburgers is now run by their daughter Katie Congdon, who still operates three locations in Austin and one in Buda.