The El Pasoan Jewish food truck Jewboy Burgers opens a new restaurant on 5111 Airport Boulevard and takes over the space from Cluck-N-Burger in the North Loop region. With owner Mo Pittle intending to tentatively open the physical restaurant on Tuesday September 1st in the fall, he plans to permanently close the Rosedale truck on 5000 Burnet Road after August 22nd.
“My concept is based on two cultures that both share a love of food,” said Pittle, referring to Jewboy’s culinary influences: the Tex-Mex cuisine from his hometown of El Paso and his Jewish upbringing, although the food is not kosher . “But beyond that, the love of eating together.” He wants the future Jewboy Burgers restaurant to feel like dinner and become a gathering place for the community that comes with that dining experience.
“Fancy restaurants and formal dining experiences are wonderful,” said Pittle, “but I’ve always loved the informality and happiness that people have.” He continued: “I’ve always had a thing for old guests and the way chefs and customers treat each other.”
However, Pittle knows that the social aspects of a restaurant are currently impossible given the novel coronavirus pandemic and social distancing requirements. But “until then, I feel comfortable that given the current state of the world, we can begin to get there from day one.”
With the new counter-service restaurant, Pittle wants to expand with El Paso Burrito, also known as border style. He describes this style of burrito as being “longer and thinner and almost always hand-held” and also notes that both ends of the burrito are open (as opposed to being wrapped and closed). “It’s a much simpler dish,” he explained when compared to burritos at Freebirds and Chuy’s, “rarely with more than an ingredient or two.” He takes inspiration from the El Paso restaurant Rafa’s Burritos. One of the possible 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, which he occasionally served from the truck. He also wants to play around with a video iteration. Elsewhere on the menu, he wants to expand with chili, ingredient options with more vegetables and chicken, and desserts. “I want to make sure I have the security under control before we talk about pieces of cheesecake or cake, shakes and other pastries,” he said.
Otherwise, the food truck’s usual menu is offered: burgers, latkes (including the option to add latke to a burger, as well as latkes soaked in melted cheese and hatching green chillies), queso, tots, and black and white biscuits. The new restaurant serves drinks on tap. Pittle is considering adding root beer on tap, which would be useful for swimmers.
Pittle liked the space on Airport Boulevard because it “feels like old Austin,” as he said to Eater. He liked that there was a fenced-in patio, a tree for shade, and that there was a walk-in window, perfect “for customers who don’t want to go in to pick up their order”. He also noted that he was “offered” the address.
The novel security protocols for coronavirus pandemics in the restaurant are being worked out, but Pittle is considering still serving everything when the restaurant opens, even if customers are dining in the restaurant, “so we can limit the amount of utensils shared”, he said .
During the pandemic, food truck sales were “solid and stable,” Pittle said. “We were very lucky.” The food truck model worked well in terms of safety regulations because it could “control the environment”. Jewboy orders can currently be placed in person, by phone or online
The address on Airport Boulevard was previously the home of the Cluck-n-Burger sandwich and chicken restaurant, which opened in 2019 and closed sometime in July. Co-owners Aaron and Kassandra Esserman stated that they have closed due to a “massive drop in sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of resources available to operate,” as they wrote on the website.
The Essermans opened Cluck as a food truck in 2018 when they won the Trucklandia Fest food truck competition that year. The food truck remains operational on a roaming basis.
In front of Cluck there was the neighborhood restaurant Turntable Eatery (from the team behind the Barfly pub) and the house pizzeria.