Restaurant News & Reviews

This new Pismo Beach burger joint has deep roots in the SLO County restaurant scene

The Golden State burger at Brooks Burgers in Pismo Beach features bacon, fried onions, egg, Colby Jack cheese and Boss sauce.
The Golden State burger at Brooks Burgers in Pismo Beach features bacon, fried onions, egg, Colby Jack cheese and Boss sauce. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Brooks Burgers recently opened in Pismo Beach, but its roots in the food industry reach back more than four decades.

Situated next to the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets shopping center, the casual restaurant occupies the longtime location of Vallarta Mexican Restaurant. Patrons place their orders at the counter before taking seats in the fully remodeled interior, perhaps sipping on pints of local craft beer while waiting for their cooked-to-order meals to arrive.

Owned and operated by Luke Brooks and his parents, Randy and Deborah Brooks, the burger joint debuted in October, but curiously claims 1968 as its year of establishment. That’s the year Randy’s father opened a meat processing facility in the Fresno area. It’s still in business as Certified Meat Products, a subsidiary of JD Food.

“We partner with Certified for our line of fresh, never frozen, beef steaks and burgers,” Randy Brooks said. “We know where the cattle comes from and how it was raised,” he added, namely, fed on both grass and grain and never given antibiotics.

Randy’s father also founded the Happy Steaks restaurant chain, and Randy Brooks followed his dad into that business. Randy and Deborah went on to launch the Cool Hand Luke’s Steak House and Huckleberry’s restaurant franchises, but recently sold those to concentrate on Brooks Burgers with their son.

For Luke Brooks, the new venture realizes a longtime dream.

“I’ve been working in restaurants since I was 12,” Luke Brooks said. “I’ve always wanted to make people happy with food.” He recalled many days as a kid cooking for his friends, when “the kitchen ended up a disaster, but everyone was full and happy.”

That concept – minus the messy kitchen – is in full force at Brooks Burgers.

The menu offers a hearty salad and a portobello mushroom sandwich, but as the name suggests, this is a burger joint. The signature Brooks Burger is appropriately old-school, with lettuce, tomato, onion and the proprietary Boss sauce.

From there, you can choose from five other burgers, such as the California Kid with avocado and roasted jalapeño or the Big Kahuna with grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce.

Chicken sandwiches – either grilled or fried – are also options, as are quarter-pound hot dogs. Recent specials have included an Ultimate BLT with avocado and egg, a Buffalo blue cheeseburger and a sliced rib eye melt. (The rib eye sandwich has become so popular it’ll soon be on the regular menu.)

The Brooks Burgers kitchen lacks a big walk-in refrigerator and a freezer, so produce from Santa Barbara’s The Berry Man, Inc., and breads and buns from Edna’s Bakery in San Luis Obispo are delivered daily. That’s how the operation would run even if it had storage space.

“We want everything as fresh as we can get it,” manager Chad Ammons said. “Luke and I are very hands-on, always watching the quality.”

“Customer service is also a big part of what we do,” Randy Brooks said. “We’ve been calling the approach ‘polished casual,’ because we don’t have full table service, but we definitely come around and check on you.”

His son agreed, noting that “we couldn’t do that without our great employees – they’re why we can offer such hospitality.”

With an eye to the future, the family is exploring the possibility of growing the overall Brooks Burgers concept. But that won’t affect the Pismo Beach location in any way.

“We’re locals now and we’re not planning on going anywhere,” Luke Brooks said. “We’re so appreciative of all the local support we’ve already gotten, and we hope people will keep coming back and hanging out with their family and friends.”

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.

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