AUSTIN, Texas — Marlis Oliver wanted to find a unique way to celebrate.
The area director for Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes just found out the company won the 2010 Texas Award for Performance Excellence and wanted to share the news with customers.

Mighty Fine, a two-year-old venture of Austin-based K&N Management, features its vendors prominently in the store, with cartons of Idaho potatoes stacked up right in the dining room, Sunkist lemons stacked around the lemonade and links to brands featured in the stores on its Web site.

Mighty Fine Burgers plays up produce

Pamela Riemenschneider

An emphasis on fresh foods, including mangoes for milkshakes and freshly sliced potatoes for french fries, plays a big role in the Austin, Texas-based burger firm's strategy.

Oliver found a recipe for Champagne Mango Shakes and thought it was a perfect fit to share a toast with customers.

“I called Ciruli Bros. in Arizona and talked to them and they said ‘somehow or another, we’re going to get this to you — we want to be part of this,’” said Oliver, who boasts a background in produce, having worked in sales at Scarmardo Produce in College Station.

A couple of phone calls later and cases of the Nogales, Ariz.-based company’s Champagne-brand ataulfo mangoes were on the way, destined to be used in free shakes given out to Mighty Fine customers March 30 through April 2. The promotion used 35 cases of mangoes, Oliver said.

“We thought it was a fabulous promotion idea,” said Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Bros.

The company featured Ciruli Bros. cartons along with its potato cartons (the company uses about 140 cases of potatoes a week) in the three Austin area stores.

Focus on fresh

Mighty Fine does things a little different. Burgers are made from fresh-ground beef, hand-formed in each location.
Each location also boasts its own fresh-cut french fry machine that churns out hundreds of pounds of crinkle-cut fries daily.

“We worked in a test kitchen for nine months prior to our opening,” Oliver said. “We sampled every variety of potato that you can imagine.”

Mighty Fine records the harvest date and shed number to keep a database of the best performing potatoes for the time of year.

“With a year or two’s worthy of data we can better determine what is going to make that perfect fry.”

Quest for the best

Oliver and K&N co-owners Ken Schiller and Brian Nolan wanted to bring something new to Austin when they came up with the idea for Mighty Fine.

“When you come to Austin and you ask ‘What’s the best burger in town?’ you’ll get 10 different answers,” he said. “Our goal from the start was to change that. We want to be the premium burger.”

K&N also is the franchise operator of the San Antonio-based Rudy’s Barbecue locations in the Austin area.

The company plans to expand the concept, Oliver said.

“We believe in slow, smart growth,” he said. “We will continue to grow in Austin and then eventually outside.”