CEO: 10 to 12 P. Terry’s locations planned for San Antonio; ready to battle Whataburger, In-N-Out and others
Photo: P. Terry's

CONVERSE, Tex. (KTSA News) — Austin burger chain P. Terry’s has its eyes set on a bigger future.  And that bigger future will start in San Antonio.

The company announced Tuesday it will be opening its first P. Terry’s location in San Antonio in the Medical Center area of the city in Fall 2020.

“This is the culmination of about a year’s worth of work that we’ve been doing inside the company internally preparing for accelerated growth,” P. Terry’s CEO Todd Coerver told KTSA News in an interview Tuesday night.  “Going back a couple of years when Patrick Terry, our founder, decided he wanted this thing to be more than just a burger concept contained to Austin.”

The growth saw the burger chain open recently in San Marcos — its first step outside of Austin.  The company will be opening six to seven new locations primarily in Austin and its suburbs as well as the Medical Center location and a restaurant in New Braunfels.

P. Terry’s will have a big challenge ahead as it joins the San Antonio burger wars.  The Alamo City is home to the widely popular Whataburger — which is also entertaining its own broad-scale expansion dreams.  Burger Boy has been adding locations across the city after operating on North St. Mary’s Street for decades.  Frontier Burger is a popular local stop, as is California’s beloved In-N-Out Burger in addition to all of the traditional fast food burger chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Jack In The Box.

The Austin chain’s preparations involved Terry getting himself out of the way and bringing in Coerver to run the company.  Coerver has extensive experience in the San Antonio fast and fast-casual scene having worked for both Whataburger and Taco Cabana.

“I’ve spent eight years living in San Antonio raising my family there, working for a couple of different restaurant companies there,” Coerver explained.  “So I know the market very well, know the communities well.”

Why San Antonio

P. Terry’s considered Houston and Dallas before deciding on making San Antonio its first target outside of Austin.

“San Antonio has been exciting to watch it really grow and prosper — especially in the last handful of years,” the burger executive said.  “With the Pearl development and some of the other pockets around the city that have really started to grow and have introduced a whole new level of food scene to the city, it just felt ripe for P. Terry’s to go make its presence known down there.”

P. Terry’s CEO Todd Coerver. Photo: P. Terry’s

It also made sense for the company from a logistics standpoint.

“We have a very unique model for our business: we have a commissary model.  So we have a centralized industrial kitchen, commercial kitchen, where we do a lot of our cooking and preparation of fresh products in that commissary on a daily basis.  Every night, we send our route trucks out — we own our own trucks, have our own drivers — and they go out and deliver to the restaurants on a daily basis.  I should say nightly, before we open the next day.”

Had the company chosen to go to Houston or Dallas first, Coerver said they would have had to get a second or third kitchen set up to handle those markets.  For now, San Antonio will be serviced out of Austin.

P. Terry’s battle plan

Coerver is already planning ahead to the chains near-term future in the city.

“We’ve got our eye on 10 to 12 locations over the next two to three years,” the CEO stated.

The company is planning to primarily focus on the north, northwest, and west sides of San Antonio with these dozen or so new stores.

“We’ve done a lot of homework in the background, really assessing the trade areas around our Austin locations and what has made those successful — what kind of dynamics are we looking for in terms of customer dynamics.  What’s the concentration of the population, age, demographic, lifestyle, attributes, things of that nature that really drive the success of P. Terry’s.  And then what we do is we’re going to San Antonio and really finding trade areas of very similar characteristics so it lowers our risk of entry knowing we are opening in very similar environments to those successful locations that we have in Austin.”

The Medical Center location will help the company gauge exactly how interested people outside of Austin truly are for yet another burger joint.

“This is obviously going to be a real gut check for us to see how San Antonio as a whole and the trade area around the Med Center reacts to P. Terry’s as a brand,” Coerver said.

The company will be moving forward getting started on its other San Antonio locations before it starts seeing whether their bet to go south was a good idea or not.

Despite the mild uncertainty entering a new market brings to a company, Coerver is confident P. Terry will find success in San Antonio.

“We take a lot of pride in serving better ingredients, more all-natural ingredients that you can feel good about putting in your body,” the burger boss man explained.  “A lot of other places will make similar claims, right?  But the thing that makes P. Terry’s a little bit different is we do it at a crazy affordable price.  When you look at our hamburgers, our hamburger is $2.80.  You’re getting really quality ingredients at a fraction of the price as some of those other places you mentioned and we think that price value offering is going to be very appealing to a lot of people.”

Coerver said the experience of going to his burger shop will make people rethink going to the hugely popular Whataburger or similarly cheap and also popular In-N-Out Burger.

What to expect

Coerver focused on three points in his chat with KTSA News about his latest restaurant venture: quality, all-natural and price.

“You’re going to walk into our restaurants — they’re very unique buildings,” he explained.  “We hired an architect firm in Austin called Michael Hsu and his group has done an unbelievable job of bringing this really unique design to life.  The design is really inspired by what’s called Googie architecture and it’s really what futurism was to folks back in the 1960s, sort of the George Jetson era of what people thought the future looked like.  Just initially, our building even takes you aback a bit, it’s unlike anything you have ever seen, especially at the fast food level.  We wanted you to have this cool, timeless diner burger stand vibe when you walked in that felt good to be there.”

Photo: P. Terry’s

From there, he said customers are to expect a heartfelt hospitality experience when they walk up to the counter to order.

And then it’s about what slides out on your tray.

“Patrick Terry invested in really high quality ingredients: 100 percent black Angus beef, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, all-natural.  We bring in Idaho potatoes fresh into our back doors in crates and we are hand-cutting those potatoes in our restaurants every day for our breakfast potatoes and our french fries.  We’re not using any hydrogenated oils — again, everything is all-natural.”

The burger shop also sells homemade cookies and handspun shakes.

“What we always find when people go to P. Terry’s for the first time, what we hear from them is ‘I can’t believe how good the food is and how good the ingredients are for the price.’  They’re shocked at the price,” Coerver explained.  He said P. Terry’s is 30 to 50 percent cheaper than competitors.

San Antonio’s burger connoisseurs will have to wait until the fall to get their first test of P. Terry’s — if they haven’t already been to one just up the interstate.  Reviews from KTSA’s Facebook family on the Austin burger chain from those who have gone up north to the company’s 15 current locations there so far have been good, though most people placed it as a #2 option behind their current local favorites.

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