With seven locations and an eighth scheduled to open in Germantown in February, Huey’s restaurants have served the greater Memphis area for over 40 years.
The newest and busiest of the seven-restaurant fleet, located less than three miles from the University of Memphis, is the Huey’s on Poplar Avenue, which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this December.
Shannon Little, the marketing and events coordinator for Huey’s, said of the 400 employees that comprise the staff she estimated roughly 100 are either current U of M students or Tiger alumni. Little, who has worked at Huey’s for seven and a half years, falls into the latter of the two categories.
Little graduated from the U of M in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a focus in business management. In 2011, she earned a masters degree from the U of M in communication with a focus in community relations.
“I actually started as a food runner and expo at this location in Poplar in 2006 and then after a year was promoted to server and then two and a half years ago I started going into the office,” Little said. “I was a marketing intern and then I got promoted to assistant, and then last year I quit working tables and became the full on marketing and events coordinator.”
Little said when the company hires people they look for individuals who will stay in Memphis for a long time and said college students generally fit this profile.
“We have a very low turnover here,” she said. “The average years of employment for someone who works at Huey’s is seven years. I started my sophomore year of college and pretty much have worked through ever since.”
In 1977, Thomas Boggs bought into the restaurant and helped change Huey’s into the graffiti walled, frill pick shooting, burger haven it is today.
“People can walk into any Huey’s location and as soon as you walk in you know you are in Huey’s,” Little said. “Everything on the walls is either memorabilia from the Boggs family that owns Huey’s, pictures of the family, articles about the family or about Huey’s or anything regarding Memphis. It is all family oriented, all Memphis oriented.”
Boggs, who started as a bartender at Huey’s a few years prior to becoming a partner, quickly realized people who came to the bar to drink did not want to leave to get food, Little said.
“So they started serving a limited menu and that’s where our Huey burger came from,” she said.
Voted best burger by Memphis Magazine every year since 1984, Huey’s originally purchased its meat from John Gray Big Star. The meat was ground daily at the market with the restaurant’s signature seasoning.
After John Gray Big Star closed, Huey’s turned to Charlie’s Meat Market on Summer Avenue to supply the hamburger demand. The meat continues to be ground fresh daily and is delivered to Huey’s six days a week.
The Poplar Avenue location goes through roughly 1,000 pounds of meat per week.
Besides the renowned burgers, Little said the community involvement and local aspect are two things that separate Huey’s from its competitors. Last year, Huey’s volunteered at 15 community events in addition to providing support to various U of M organizations.
“We have a scholarship fund at the University of Memphis in honor of Thomas Bogs,” she said. “We also sponsor homecoming and alumni events every year as well as sponsoring and giving donations to many organizations. Greek organizations, SGA, international programs, we always host the international foreign students once a year for lunch.”
Adam Domico, a 21-year-old regular of the popular Memphis chain, lives in the area and said he dines in or picks up food at Huey’s around three times a week.
Domico said the family business aspect is something a lot of people can connect with, and the longevity of the restaurants is a testament to its product.
“It definitely has a mainstay in this city,” he said. “A lot of people know about it and a lot of people like it for its casual atmosphere in not only the sense that the food is good, but the price is good.”
The Huey’s on 4872 Poplar Ave. is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
The kitchen closes at 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“We are 100 percent a local company,” Little said. “We love Memphis; we love everything about Memphis.”