By Mark Woolsey
Keylan and Erika Mitchell plan to serve up meaty, tasty burgers and other fast-casual fare, along with a side order of community involvement and giveback.
The couple plan to open the first Georgia outpost of Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes in late November. They’ve been refurbishing space at 1400 Veterans Memorial Highway SE, unit 150 in Mableton in preparation.
Keylan Mitchell says his wife came across the concept online. The couple began to do research and found a lot that they liked. The Mitchells also found that the nearest location was in Birmingham. Paying it a visit produced tickled taste buds and spurred them on to a visit to the 84-unit company’s Dallas headquarters, where they say they were impressed by the knowledge and commitment they found.
Mitchell says they’d been hunting an entrepreneurial opportunity in the restaurant space, mindful that while there were fast food options in their surrounding area, “there really wasn’t a higher-quality burger concept” around the corner.
“We found ourselves traveling outside the community for the variety and quality of options we preferred. And we found in conversations with our neighbors that they were doing the same thing,” he said.
They say Mableton’s diversity, list of amenities such as the Silver Comet Trail and Mable House Amphitheater and rapid residential growth auger well for success.
The couple are fledgling restauranteurs with a solid business grounding. Keylan Mitchell is a public administrator working with local governments on public-private partnerships, while Erika is a non-profit sector finance and operations executive.
Mitchell says first and foremost, their venture will feature top tier angus beef. Mooyah bakes their buns in-house daily and features five cheese choices, bacon, avocado and 19 free sauce and topping choices. Fries are from hand-cut Idaho potatoes, and they also feature 100 percent real ice cream shakes. Turkey burgers and hot dogs have a place on the menu as well.
They’ll offer paleo, keto and gluten-free options.
On the less tangible but no-less-important side of the formula, he promises a positive and fun atmosphere for their employees.
“We want to invest in people in such a way that they feel cared for, that this is a place where they can grow and feel like it’s a good job while they’re here,” he said.
Mitchell says they’ll also mentor and extensively train young employees, imbuing them with the kind of skills and attitudes that will be portable to whatever work they do in the future, such as excellent customer service and a strong work ethic. Mitchell says they plan to develop a work-and-school combination program in conjunction with campuses in their area.
It’s obvious the Mitchells do care about their neighbors, and they have the track record to back it up, with active roles in organizations ranging from the State Charter Schools Foundation of Georgia (her) and the boards of the Cobb Park and Recreation Department and the MDE School (him).
There are challenges to be considered.
The much-talked-about labor shortage is a tough potential issue to navigate. “I think it’s going to be as big a challenge as it is for anyone in general,” Mitchell admits. And with wariness about COVID still a factor, they’ll delver their food in a variety of ways.
The back story on company management sounds promising. Several honors have come the company’s way, including being named by the Dallas Business Journal as 2021’s most inspiring leaders. They’ve also appeared in best-of rankings for Fast Casual’s Movers and Shakers and Entrepreneurs Magazine.
The Mitchells says they want to expand to some three to five locations in the next five to seven years, focusing on other parts of Cobb County and metro Atlanta.