When asked to describe his new restaurant, Stuffy's, Marlin Brooks calls it "a good burger joint" and leaves it at that.
But, with a little prodding, he gives up the secret to a good — a really good — burger: flavor profiles.
"To us, flavor profiles are everything," he explains.
Which is why Stuffy's offers nine flavors of mayonnaise to top off the burgers: chipotle, lemon cilantro (by far people's favorite), barbecue, hot wing and blue cheese, steak sauce, Old Bay with lemon and dill, caper and dill, Italian, and horseradish.
"If you taste our mayos individually, they might be a little too over-the-top or a little too subtle," Brooks says. "But when you put them with the burger and the toppings, it all melds together."
Stuffy's doesn't skimp on the toppings, either. Choose from traditional items like lettuce, tomato, and pickles, as well as grilled onions, banana peppers, jalapenos, grilled mushrooms, pepper bacon, turkey bacon, chili, and coleslaw.
Of course, what really makes Stuffy's worth visiting is its hamburger patty. Each burger is mixed with secret seasoning, stuffed with American cheese (Brooks hopes to add other cheeses and items to the list soon), and seared to a crisp finish on a flat-top grill.
Making burgers was a part of the Brooks family long before the Stuffy was even a sizzle on its owner's griddle. Brooks' wife Paula used to work for Five Guys burgers, a famous chain that recently opened its first location in Memphis. But it wasn't until their daughter saw a stuffed burger on television that Marlin got an idea for a new business venture.
"We looked to see if they had anything like it here in Memphis, and they didn't, so we just started processing them. My kids ate a lot of burgers for us to come up with our menu," he says.
Since Stuffy's opened on August 9th, Brooks says they've received a lot of support from the community, including University of Memphis students coming in for the 85-cent hot wings and families coming in for the chicken tenders and hand-cut french fries.
The fries are handled with particular care, as Brooks insists: "We don't make a lot of things, but we try to make a few things very well." The potatoes are cut, blanched to remove starch and make them crispier, fried, brought back to room temperature, fried again for an extra crispy texture, and seasoned.
In addition to burgers, fries, chicken, and wings, the Brookses threw in an homage to their former home in Marlyand: boiled, peel-and-eat shrimp made with lemon, Old Bay, bay leaves, peppercorn, and a homemade seafood stock.
The next step for Stuffy's involves a milkshake bar — what any burger and fries aficionado would expect — in the space above the restaurant, sometime before next spring.
Stuffy's is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Stuffy's, 786 Echles (308-2342)
Jack Magoo's owner Bryan Plunk chose the up-and-coming Broad Avenue neighborhood for its connections: the Greenline, bike lanes, and nearby major thoroughfares.
"It's the new place starting to evolve," he says, anticipating Broad will be a Midtown destination like Cooper-Young or the reemerging Overton Square.
The menu consists of upscale pub grub, from ahi tuna to sliders and hot wings. For now, Jack Magoo's is focusing on the dinner and late-night dining scene, but Plunk hopes to expand to lunch, brunch, and perhaps even breakfast in the coming months.
Jack Magoo's is open 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Jack Magoo's, 2583 Broad (340-3000)