Photograph by Drew Podo
When brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox opened their smokehouse in 2007, they also wanted to jump on the burger bandwagon that was sweeping across Atlanta. But with no ground chuck in house to make a conventional burger, they used what they already had in the kitchen: chopped brisket, peppery bacon, rich pimento cheese, and homemade jalapeño mayo. “We were just messing around and came up with this idea of what we’d call a burger using what we could,” Jonathan says.
The brothers spent months developing the gut-busting recipe. They started with a more traditional ground brisket patty, but it took nearly an hour to cook and didn’t reheat well. Eventually they settled on chopped brisket, which had “good crust and all that gets chopped up into the brisket.”
When the burger debuted as a lunch special, it flew out of the kitchen. “At that time we didn’t have the volume that we do now, but for something to have traction like that made us pay attention,” he says. They began offering it as a weekly special, though they still hadn’t perfected the recipe: their method of melting the pimento cheese on the bun left the bread burnt. When they figured out that melting the cheese over the meat solved their bun issue, they stuck it on the regular menu.
Jonathan estimates that they sell almost 100 burgers a day. While he admits that the burger has helped rocket them to success, he wishes that the restaurant received the same acclaim for its barbecue. “Everybody always associates us with these gut bombs, but we make really good barbecue too,” he says. “But at the end of the day, we’ve made something really good that we should be proud of. It’s gotten us kinda where we are.”