When Colleyville residents Brad and Nancy Sinex vacationed on Maui in 2011 they discovered Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, a legendary fast-casual burger joint founded on the Islands 18 years ago.
“We fell in love with the burgers – period,” said Nancy Sinex.
After they came home to Colleyville the couple searched without success for a burger they liked as much as the Teddy’s brand.
“I visited every burger place you can name within a 20-mile radius of here and couldn’t find anything comparable,” said Nancy.
So the couple, both retired at the time, bought a franchise and made history by opening the first Teddy’s in Texas last fall.
“We couldn’t go back to Hawaii every time we wanted a great burger,” Nancy said.
With a cool ‘50s vibe and a small fleet of surfboards on display, the Colleyville restaurant, one of several dozen Teddy’s Bigger Burgers worldwide, continues to make waves across North Texas.
Restaurant co-founders Ted Tsakiris and Rich Stula dropped by the Colleyville burger shack on March 14 to hang ten at a special event and formally introduce Teddy’s burgers to Texas.
“This is one of our most beautiful stores,” Tsakiris said. “Nancy and Brad have done a fantastic job. It’s a tough job. Congratulations to them for moving our brand forward and raising awareness about our style of burgers.”
Tsakiris, originally from New Jersey, and Stula, who hails from Florida, moved to Hawaii about the same time and became best friends. The two loved good burgers but couldn’t find a fast-food restaurant in the Aloha State that they thought offered a quality burger.
“I had this brilliant, crazy idea to open a burger joint. We started testing in about 1995, and 30 pounds later we finally got the recipe right,” Tsakiris said.
In a tightly competitive market, Teddy’s stands out with its 100 percent freshly ground chuck (no fillers or binders). Burgers are handmade daily, charbroiled to order, and served on a potato bun. Teddy’s signature Super Sauce is a sweet and spicy mixture, not the usual thousand island or ranch dressing. Teddy’s teriyaki sauce is a traditional recipe made from scratch. Burgers are piled inches high with fresh ingredients, and several varieties are available, including the Hawaiian with pineapple and a Texas brisket burger.
Tsakiris and his wife, Linda, along with Stula and his wife, Bree, opened the first Teddy’s in 1998 at the base of Diamond Head in Honolulu.
“We now have 23 locations, 12 on Oahu alone, in five states plus the Philippines, Japan and Thailand,” Stula said.
Teddy’s is opening its sixth international store in coming weeks and three more new restaurants are in contract in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“It’s been very organic growth. All of our franchisees come to us because they like the product,” Stula said. “Two of our stores, including the one in Iowa, are owned by former employees.”
After paying the initial franchise fee of $25,000, the Sinexes traveled back to Hawaii for training, although they could have trained in one of the stores on the mainland. The entire process, which included finding the right storefront through a local commercial real estate agent, took the couple about a year and a half.
“We learned from the ground up. We had no restaurant experience,” said Nancy, a former software development manager and program manager at Sabre Corp. for 20 years. Brad spent his career in the oil and gas industry. After retiring from BP/Arco, he went back to work as a consultant, working overseas as a general manager.
“We learned how to cut the lettuce, how to make and place orders, how to keep books. I had to learn how to do HR,” Nancy said of the training. “It’s more complicated than you think getting a brand out. There’s the marketing and advertising. The social media is an eye-opener. We’re a long way from savvy but we know a lot more about social media than we knew before.”
Her husband agreed.
“It’s a whole new world to learn,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition so getting a new brand out is not easy. It takes time.”
Although their main reason was to bring the Teddy’s brand to their hometown, another reason they decided to invest in a restaurant was to provide local jobs. The Colleyville store employs about 20 people, including high school and college students. For several of them, it’s their first job.
“We wanted to be part of the community,” said Brad. “We saw it as a gift to the community and to ourselves. We really wanted a family restaurant and wanted to have young people working here.”
The first Wednesday of each month, the couple donates a percentage of sales to the Warrior Angels Foundation, a Grapevine-based nonprofit organization that helps veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries.
“It’s another way of making a connection with the community,” Nancy said. “It’s been quite an adventure. Neither one of us had any idea that we’d ever be in the restaurant business. We didn’t know we would ever be entrepreneurs but we are now. We love it.”
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
4712 Colleyville Blvd., Suite 100