A history of service (food and otherwise) is not something the building at 101 S. Old 81 Highway in Hesston is short on, in regards to both the establishment itself and new owner Sandra Gough — who is getting ready to open The Burger Garage at the former Skoops location.
For 11 years, Gough helped Ryan Beck manage his restaurants in Hesston (Beck's Carryout) and Newton (Beck's Burger Garage), and brings that experience with her in opening up this new restaurant in Hesston — targeting late October/early November for the start of service. In Gough's eyes, it was an opportunity that could not be passed up.
"When this place became available, it was one of those things where you wanted to jump on it," Gough said. "I like Hesston a lot. I like the building, that the building has a little bit of history, it's right in the center of town and that it's got more space than what there was in the Newton restaurant."
Stepping into the ownership role this time around, Gough has taken on a lot in transforming The Burger Garage to meet her standards. That has included redecorating the interior — featuring some items that will be familiar to patrons of the old Beck's Burger Garage — as well as hiring and training staff, touching up the exterior, setting the menu and more.
That menu will have a familiar look as well, as Gough noted she plans to bring back many items offered by the former Beck's Burger Garage, including quality burgers, crinkle-cut fries, milkshakes and a customer favorite — fried Oreos.
"People loved them, so I plan to keep it up. We were constantly battering," Gough said. "I have the room here for it, so I'm going to continue with those."
Additionally, Gough said some of the staples of the former restaurant will be expanded on — like having toppings and mix-ins for the milkshakes — both to start and in the future. The burger offerings in particular, Gough said, are being eyed to include a little more variety down the line.
While her own history has shaped the current restaurant, Gough is also celebrating the building's past, too. On one of the walls hangs a photo of the restaurant's original identity as a gas station — as well as a map predating the creation of Interstate 135, when Old 81 Highway was the main route through town.
Gough is hoping to drive more traffic back down Old 81 Highway, noting there have already been plenty of inquiries about when the restaurant will officially be open. She is also hoping to draw crowds by fully embracing the garage aesthetic, noting plans are already in the works to potentially host some car shows at the restaurant.
Taking on the task of opening her own restaurant has been quite the endeavor, Gough admitted, but between the built-in lunch market through local businesses and the growing buzz she said there is a lot of potential. Currently, in the final stages of prepping the new restaurant, Gough is taking it one day at a time — and pretty pleased with how things have gone.
"It's taken a little more time than I thought it would," Gough said, "but for everything that I wanted to do, I think it's been worth it."
Hours of operation, once the restaurant officially opens, are yet to be determined.