It’s a popular exclamation Rebel fans say every time they chant “Hotty Toddy!”
It’s also the name of a hamburger at Oxford Burger Company.
The casual restaurant that serves hometown burgers with fresh products is located right off the Square at 920 E. Jackson Ave.
Co-owners Chris Stephenson and Patrick McNulty, both University of Mississippi graduates, opened Oxford Burger Company in May of 2017. McNulty and Stephenson met during their freshman year through the same fraternity. Twenty years later, Stephenson said they talked about “jokingly opening a burger restaurant. Then lengthy conversations evolved into a fast-casual burger concept.”
Stephenson, from Gloucester Point, Virginia, lives in Oxford with his wife and three children. Stephenson also runs two Firehouse Subs in Tupelo and Oxford, along with Oxford Burger Company. He enjoys spending time with his family and watching college athletics.
McNulty is from Dallas, Texas and lives in South Padre Island, Texas.
Marie Hagans, 30, is the manager of Oxford Burger Company. The Abbeville, Mississippi resident had previous experience working with Stephenson as a manager at Firehouse Subs. She has been with Oxford Burger Company since it opened in May of 2017.
“I love my job and I love working with the public,” she said.
Cheyenne Hagans, sister of Marie and the youngest of seven, works at Oxford Burger Company. The Oxford resident joined in the restaurant in January as a shift leader under her older sister.
“I like it here,” she said. “It is very laid back. When we are busy, we’re busy. When we are not busy, we aren’t. The customers are really nice.”
When asked about working with family, the sisters responded, “We don’t even bring family in here. Work is work, and we have to keep it that way.”
The location of Oxford Burger Company has a unique history. In the 1950s, the it was a family restaurant that eventually moved next door. The location, years later, would become the print and distribution center for The Oxford Eagle.
Walking into Oxford Burger Company, the counter is straight ahead with the kitchen behind it. To the right of the door is the seating area with your choice of booths or chairs.
Stephenson gives credit to several friends for helping customize the store. “We have a friend in the reclaimed wood business … another friend gave us the tin ceilings from a site someone was tearing down,” said Stephenson.
Why choose Burgers?
“It was our personal desire to go out and get a really good burger,” Stephenson said, “a good, fresh, cook-to-order burger with hand-cut fries. It just seemed like a void for that whenever we wanted to do that. The menu focuses on the burgers, but we have other options. Over the summer, we added a taco section.”
Subs, sandwiches and salads were also added to the list because “not everybody wants a burger, and a lot of people have sandwiches when coming in to eat.”
Hagans agreed, “I am glad we gave them more options instead of just having burgers.”
The burgers have special names that represent a connection.
“I can’t fully create a new burger if there’s no name to carry the weight of the burger,” Stephenson said.
The Gosh Almighty burger represents the Ole Miss chant “Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty.” The Black Bean burger is the veggie burger for customers to eat. The burger UT Oxford represents the high amount of Texas students that attend the University of Mississippi. It is similar to schools in Texas like the University of Texas-El Paso or the University of Texas-San Antonio.
The owners’ first struggle was how to pace the kitchen when a giant crowd entered the restaurant. Another issue was the price of burgers compared to portion size. Criticism from customers helped improve their service. The workers gained skill in pacing and increased the portion size of the meat to complement the prices.
“You get compliments. You get complaints,” Stephenson said. “Now the compliments are more and more genuine now that we’ve taken the first six to seven months of customer feedback.”
Hagans’ toughest job as manager is scheduling. “It’s not the customers,” she added.
A future goal is to pick up later night business. The store often closes at 9 p.m., but in the future, they could stay open until midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.
“That’s definitely on top of our agenda is to experiment with that,” Stephenson said.
“I would love to see more space for the restaurant,” Hagans said.
Stephenson wants every customer to have a great meal as they cook-to-order. This causes an increase in wait time, but he believes it is worth the quality of the burgers.
The Oxford Burger Company is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.