A Dirty’s bacon cheeseburger and onion rings. Don’t appearance your cardiologist. (Photos by John Anderson)
Wooden barbecue tables sit on what already was the clay attic that lent this 96-year-old Austin burger collective its name decades ago. Affected photos of employees, customers, and Longhorn football players awning best of the burnt orange walls.
Customers adolescent and old sit broadcast about the allowance while Willie Nelson’s “Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)” plays over their quiet conversations, and the begrimed aroma of bacon grease hangs in the air. For years, Dirty Martin’s has stood at the circle of Guadalupe Street and Nueces Street. Now a proposed alteration arrangement could abutting the restaurant for good.
Robert Hughes, a Dirty Martin’s agent aback 1988, stands abutting to photos of his father, Wesley Hughes (top left), and his uncle, JT Hughes (top right)
The system, alleged Project Connect, would badly aggrandize ablaze abuse and bus account throughout the burghal and greater Austin area. “The absorbed is to accommodate lots of options for bodies to get about boondocks added cheaply and added efficiently,” Council Member Kathie Tovo said. She represents Burghal Council District 9, which includes the Dirty Martin’s property.
While the arrangement is still in its planning stages, the Project Connect agents is appointed to be 30% complete with its architecture by the end of 2022. Currently the proposed Orange Band would run forth North Lamar and Guadalupe, displacing Dirty Martin’s and several added businesses in the area.
“I’m in favor of [the restaurant] blockage appropriate breadth it is until I’m dead. Aback I’m gone, they can advertise it,” says longtime Dirty’s chump JC Johnson, sitting in the aback allowance beneath a bank of photos featuring the brand of above Longhorn Malik Jefferson and the backward Jim Brewer, a artisan blur and TV amateur and longtime customer. A University of Texas alumnus, Johnson has been advancing to Dirty’s aback the Seventies and says he consistently orders the greasiest cheeseburger and onion rings he can get. “I wanna be affected to booty a Lipitor aback I leave.”
Valentin Franco, a Dirty Martin’s agent of 24 years, cooks burgers
“This is my home.” – Longtime agent Val Franco
When the burger joint, originally called Martin’s Kum-Bak, was founded by John Martin in 1926, the baby architecture had eight bar stools, a counter, and clay floors. Ten years later, Martin awash the restaurant to Stuart Nemir Sr. The accepted owner, Mark Nemir, is Stuart’s grandson, which agency Dirty Martin’s has been in the aforementioned ancestors for added than 80 years.
The bounded basic has remained accessible throughout the Great Depression, assorted wars, and a pandemic, but Project Connect could displace the restaurant from its longstanding home. “I anticipate it’s ashore because of the advisers we’ve had here,” Daniel Young, Dirty’s accepted manager, says. “From 1950 to 2000, there were the aforementioned eight bodies that formed here.” An Austin native, Adolescent has formed at Dirty’s for seven years. His abettor administrator has been there for 12 years, and three of the cooks accept formed at Dirty’s for added than 20 years.
In the advanced allowance is the Dirty’s anteroom of fame, as Adolescent calls it. Affected photos of animated advisers band the wall. Some formed at Dirty’s for added than two decades, others for afterpiece to bisected a century. The amount agents remains, and that’s why bodies come, Adolescent says. Bodies appetite to go about breadth the agents knows their aboriginal name and their order.
Scenes from Dirty’s
And of course, they additionally appear for their anointed burgers. The agents starts the about-face by affable bacon, condiment the gas barbecue with grease for the accomplished day, Adolescent explains. Anniversary patty is adapted for three account on anniversary side. The bun gets a quick acknowledgment in the grease as well.
“There’s a little bend breadth you can affectionate of dip the bun in and it gets that coat of grease,” Adolescent says. “And that’s how bodies bethink us.”
As far as burger toppings go, they accumulate it simple and old-school. “The aboriginal hamburger at Dirty’s was aloof mustard, onion, pickle, tomato, and it’s still the same,” Adolescent says. Ingredients like lettuce, mayonnaise, and bacon accept been added to the card over time, and abounding affirmation Dirty’s is the aboriginal restaurant in Austin to accomplish a bacon cheeseburger. They’ve additionally started to annex out by abacus things like avocado and cilantro to their burgers.
Scenes from Dirty’s
Beginning in the aboriginal 2000s, bodies started to attending abroad for a burger. The appearance of P. Terry’s in 2005 aching Dirty Martin’s business considerably, Adolescent says. The communicable didn’t advice affairs either. Dirty’s bankrupt briefly, and Nemir absitively not to do takeout because he knew their burgers were best aback hot and greasy. The blackmail airish by Project Connect is the latest and best actual claiming Dirty’s has faced, and it’s one that has sparked altercation about the needs of the city.
“I’m in favor of [Dirty’s] blockage appropriate breadth it is until I’m dead. Aback I’m gone, they can advertise it.” – Longtime chump JC Johnson
“I’m admiring of Project Connect, alike admitting it may aftereffect in the accident of or the displacement of some businesses,” Tovo says. “I achievement the displacement will be as basal as possible, but I accept that it may be all-important to get the routes that are best able and are activity to serve the accomplished cardinal of people.”
One band-aid proposed by the Austin association would abode the abuse band underground at the allotment of Guadalupe Street apartment Dirty’s, Tovo says. This would abbreviate battle with pedestrians in the heavily trafficked breadth and accumulate Dirty Martin’s doors open.
Scenes from Dirty’s
When asked about Dirty’s approaching with the approaching Project Connect, Adolescent says, “It’s adamantine to know. The approaching I anticipate looks a little bit bleak.” He’s acquisitive for two outcomes with the rail: Either they body beneath Dirty Martin’s or over it. Young’s ambition appropriate now is to activity up as abundant accessible clamor as possible. He acquaint a address on their website to advice accumulate Dirty’s in business. The bodies he’s talked to Downtown say he should aim for 50,000 signatures. Appropriate now they’ve aggregate about 15,500.
He’s additionally auspicious barter to ability out to the Austin Burghal Council anon and explain how Dirty’s cease would affect them personally.
“This is my home,” abiding agent Val Franco says. He’s been alive at Dirty’s for 24 years and loves it. Wearing a Dirty Martin’s baseball cap and shirt, he sits at a table at the actual aback of the room. It’s his admired table because he can see aggregate from here. “I say aggregate is admirable here. I adulation this room,” Franco says.
Dirty’s, at the bend of Guadalupe and Nueces, has been in business for about a century
A account of animated UT acceptance alfresco of Dirty’s in the Eighties hangs on the larboard ancillary of the room. The acceptance are still customers. One is a drillmaster in Leander, addition is a realtor, addition writes for Texas Monthly, Adolescent says. Across from them hangs a Fifties-era ad for Dirty Martin’s. Adolescent pulled it from an old Daily Texan. Dirty’s buzz cardinal was alone bristles digits continued aback then.
Toward the front, a affected bells allurement for June 18, 1983, reads, “Don’t absence the aboriginal bells anytime captivated at Martin’s Kum-Bak Hamburger Place.” The appropriate accoutrements is “disgustingly casual.”
“A lot of bodies apperceive this place,” Franco says. “I appetite to accumulate it a home.”
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