Oxford Burger Company hits the spot on the Square
By Reid Posey
Although Oxford Burger Company officially opened their doors on May 15, the project had been a long time coming, according to co-owners Patrick McNulty and Chris Stephenson.
The idea “probably started about 20 years ago,” McNulty said with a laugh.
Alumni of the University of Mississippi, McNulty and Stephenson have been friends for over 20 years, since their days as fraternity brothers. The two spent years kicking around ideas for a business before settling on a burger joint specializing in fresh ingredients and unique concepts.
In addition to a “build-your-own burger” option, Oxford Burger Company offers up a variety of specialties ranging from staples like bacon cheeseburgers and mushroom-and-swiss burgers to more experimental options like a peanut butter burger or a burger topped with mac-and-cheese.
Not to be overshadowed by their diverse menu, however, is the restaurant’s commitment to quality ingredients, said McNulty and Stephenson.
“We’re using fresh ingredients, we’re using fresh hamburger meat, and we’re using fresh-cut french fries,” Stephenson said.
McNulty added that their beef is 100 percent black angus and has never been frozen, ensuring a natural freshness that he feels differentiates themselves from the competition.
Stephenson noted that their restaurant’s family-friendly, fast-casual atmosphere helped to fill an important niche on the Square.
“We’re bringing an upscale environment, but at the same time, it’s not a full-service environment,” Stephenson said. “We just felt there was a place for that in Oxford. It’s a place where you can eat lunch for about ten bucks on the Square and it’s fast, but it’s not fast food.”
Stephenson said that the restaurant tries to “offer the best of both worlds when it comes to fast food and full service and a superior product at the same time for a reasonable price.”
So far, the owners have said that reception has been positive.
“We’ve had busy days every day,” McNulty said. “Of course, we can’t wait for the students to get back.”
At the same time, both Stephenson and McNulty are extremely grateful both for the locals and for the opportunity to develop their concept and product gradually without the stress of a full student body.
“It’s been a lot of fun to test the waters with a lot of local people,” Stephenson said. “They’re the ones that help us be a success. Students come and go, but those folks stay. Without keeping them happy, you’re going to have a hard time being a success.”
For the time being, Stephenson said that their goal is to interact as much as possible with customers and listen to their comments in order to continue improving their product in a more controlled environment before the rush that fall will bring.
“We’re taking the summer to learn what our customers are asking for, getting feedback from them,” Stephenson said. “As much as constructive criticism hurts, we’re open for it, and we’ve definitely learned and hopefully improved and gotten better on it.”
Stephenson and McNulty said that in addition to using online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram for promotional purposes, they also monitor the sites for helpful comments and criticism in order to improve their performance.
Further, Stephenson said that he makes it a point to initiate face-to-face interaction with customers while they are in the restaurant in order to get immediate personal feedback.
One thing Stephenson and McNulty said that they have already learned from customer feedback is the importance of having children’s options. They were quickly added to the menu, filling a pressing need and making Oxford Burger Company even more family-friendly in the process.
Moving forward, Oxford Burger Company is looking to expand its menu after initially concentrating on making its primary product the best it could be.
“We started the summer just wanting to do burgers just to get good at that,” Stephenson said.
They are now looking at adding chicken items, certain sides and appetizers, and possibly some veggie-friendly and other non-traditional burger items.
Until then, customers can simply enjoy the diverse selection of burgers, made with fresh ingredients, and can stick around to let Oxford Burger Company know how they’re doing.
Oxford Burger Company is located at 920 Jackson Ave. East. For more information, visit their website at www.oxfordburgerco.net, like their page on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram.