By Becca Nelson Sankey | Standard-Times
SAN ANGELO, Texas — When Tim Condon moved earlier this year to live closer to his daughter, he introduced big-city dining to small-town San Angelo.
Condon worked as a chef at a three-star hotel in Honolulu before opening Lonestar Cheeseburger, a food truck, in San Angelo. The mobile trailer operates in the parking lot of Eskimo Hut at 33 W. Beauregard Ave.
In addition to offering Beef Country staples such as burgers, cheese steaks, fajitas and barbecue sandwiches, Condon has a healthy menu of items including grilled chicken, salmon burgers and turkey burgers.
Grabbing takeout food from a trailer is a new concept to San Angelo, Condon said, but popular in Hawaii and bustling Texas cities such as Dallas and Austin.
“They’re quite literally taking over the food industry,” Condon said of lunch trucks. “We can compete with the McDonald’s and Burger Kings on price and quality, and other restaurants aren’t able to do that because their overhead is higher.”
Condon didn’t shy away from opening a burger joint in a market saturated with them, he said, because he was confident he could offer something different.
“We make everything from scratch — from our mayo to our mustard to our buns,” he said. “We’ve got incredible fries and onion rings. We have a custom grill — it’s pretty much a smoker that is connected to a gas grill, so we basically suck all the smoke our smoker makes through our gas grill. We smoke all of our burgers and everything’s much fresher. I get top-of-the-line produce. We use Angus beef. Those are the reasons why our product is much different than McDonald’s or Burger King.”
Lonestar Burger’s menu prices also are lower than many of its competitors, he said.
“I’ve got everything on my menu from 99 cents up to $7, and that’s ($7) for a burger that’s well over a pound,” Condon said. “A burger like that you can’t really get anywhere else in San Angelo. If you get a half-pound burger at a restaurant, you’d be paying $10 to $12, and we can offer double the meat for half the price.”
Condon first opened his business in April in the parking lot where Blockbuster Video used to be. When Blockbuster closed, Lonestar Burger moved to Goodfellow Air Force Base and began competing with the base’s Burger King, he said.
The business two weeks ago moved to its current location on Beauregard Avenue, where Condon said he plans to stay.
“We’re just trying to find the best location in San Angelo where we can be where most of our customers are, and so that’s why we chose this location,” he said.
Standard-Times: What’s the response been to Lonestar Burger?
We’ve had a great response. Pretty much anywhere we go, we fill up the parking lot with cars during lunch and dinner. I’m honestly shocked how many return customers and customers (we have) who come every day. We have a large group of people who come multiple times a week.
“We wanted to try different spots, but we like the spot we’re currently at,” he said. Why did you decide to do this for a living?
Food and wine have always been big passions of mine. I got drawn to it, and it’s an opportunity to basically just express myself. I look at myself kind of like a food artist. When we’re here in San Angelo, we’re going to do burgers and fries and put out the best product we can. If we’re in a different city, we’ll do a different style of food for that market.
Why did you decide to go the burger route?
I thought that that would be a menu item and a concept that would work best in San Angelo. If I would’ve opened in Austin, maybe we might be doing something a little bit different. I tried to form a concept that would be successful here.
And you also cater events, right?
My background’s all in fine dining. There’s not a lot of people out here interested in that type of food, but when we do catering, we do private parties at people’s homes and weddings. We (offer) a wide variety of catering styles.
How did you learn to cook?
I went to school for it. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 15 years.
What goals do you have with the business?
We’re definitely looking to franchise this concept. I’ve got a few people who are interested in such an idea. I’m also looking to possibly in the future expand to a building, but for the time being we’re just a lunch truck.
What do you like about your work?
We’re the first official food truck in San Angelo. I like the fact that it’s not work for me because we really enjoy what we do. And I really like hearing the comments and feedback from everyone. Everyone’s really amazed you can put out such a great product out of a trailer.