Step into Gurty's Burgers and Shakes (214 E. 12th St., Newton) and your liable to be hit with a blast from the past, as the restaurant's decór harkens back to the 1970s — the days of its namesake's youth — with Pac-Man chairs surrounding the tables and posters of Gurty's pop culture icons lining the walls, including Farah Fawcett, Burt Reynolds and Evel Knievel.
"Gurty" was a childhood nickname owner Murray Anderson thought he had left (mostly) in the past, but, like much about the restaurant, the timing was right to reveal his somewhat secretive moniker and bring another business venture to a stretch on 12th Street (across from Dillons) he continues to personally develop.
Opening on Tuesday, Gurty's will be the third business owned and operated by Anderson at the strip northeast of the intersection of 12th and Oak streets. According to Anderson, the timing has just worked out to naturally progress from one to three business in the vicinity over the course of 36 years.
Initially, Anderson worked at Dillons and bought land across the street to open Anderson Retail Liquor in 1981, thinking it would be a prime location right across from a grocery store. Anderson then added to his empire with 12 Brew Drive Thru, a coffee and specialty drink stop, last year. Based on the traffic at both, including an extremely loyal client base at 12 Brew, Anderson and staff held a belief that a full-service restaurant would only amplify that.
"We felt that was a good thing to move over here and expand into burgers," Anderson said.
Already the owner of the building, the skeleton of the restaurant was in place after previous tenant Dickey's Barbecue Pit vacated this past winter. Anderson was also quick utilize the full skill set of former Dickey's manager Denise Carter (his general manager at Gurty's), keeping her on staff at 12 Brew. Given Carter's experience in the restaurant business and his own (formerly operating The Grilled Onion at the Chisholm Trail Mall), it was only a matter of time before Gurty's was born.
Make no mistake, though, while the accents are vintage, the menu is all about being fresh. That starts with the burgers, and Anderson noted he wanted the best, so he went to the best butcher in town — Roger Gillispie. After Gillispie connected him with his supplier, Anderson knew he had a strong base to build from in terms of quality — adding on with some signature flair.
Burger combo prices, Anderson noted, are competitive with similar restaurants and a good entry point, but he also wanted to add something extra to make Gurty's offerings stand out — like the Gooey Gurty (a burger topped with mac'n cheese), the Red White and Bleu (with crumbled bleu cheese and Frank's Red Sauce) and the Durty Gurty, a burger topped with a fried egg, smoked bacon and stuck between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
"That is a meal, or two meals," Anderson said.
Like 12 Brew, Gurty's will also feature signature hand-dipped ice cream shakes (with specialties like oatmeal creme pie and salted chocolate caramel), but the true hook of the restaurant may be it's appetizer menu.
Featuring 16 different dishes, ranging from standards like spinach and artichoke to dip to the more unique like the Canadian standard of poutine (at the suggestion of one of Anderson's employees at the liquor store), Anderson is hoping the snack-sized offerings will draw a large crowd. Much of the menu was taste-tested (with overall positive results) by the high school and college students Anderson hopes to appeal to with the vast selection and late hours.
During a preview event Monday night, it was clear there was a wide appeal as well, as a diners of all ages praised the "amazing" milkshakes and the variety of the menu (from entrees to appetizers to seven different dipping sauces), which seemed to pique everyone's interest and achieve Anderson's goal.
"This just seemed like something that was probably needed, but I wanted to do it a notch above," Anderson said. "I didn't want to open just a burger place. I wanted it to be something that people really said, 'hey, this is cool; this is what Newton needs.'"
Hours of operation will be from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information on the restaurant, visit Gurty's Facebook page.