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Iconic Austin drive-in restaurant shifts gears to open first new location in 48 years

Austin drive-in shifts gears to open first new location in 48 years

Top Notch Hamburgers
Top Notch Burgers is taking a drive out to Hutto. Top Notch Hamburgers/Facebook

It took almost 50 years, but Top Notch Burgers is finally getting a second location. The Austin institution is headed to the suburbs with an outpost in Hutto set to open in early 2020.

According to a release, the restaurant has signed on with Hutto Co-Op District, currently under construction on U.S. Highway 79. The ambitious development is a reimagined Main Street for the city, compete with a new city hall.

Founded in 1971 by Ray and Frances Stanish, Top Notch is one of the city's most recognizable dining landmarks. The signage, car hop stations, and dining room has remained virtually untouched throughout the decades. In fact, keeping things the same was a stipulation when the Stanish family sold the spot to Jay Bunda, Chris Courtney, and Kelly Chappell in 2010.

Its time capsule authenticity made it a natural choice when director Richard Linklater was scouting for locations for his 1993 cult hit Dazed and Confused. Bunda, Courtney, and Chappell; whose families also own Zocalo and Galaxy Cafe; plan to bring the same ‘70s vibe to the new construction.

The building will be modern with more windows for natural light, but design elements and materials from the original — including the iconic sign — will be brought to Hutto. And, yes, it will still be a drive-in.

The menu will remain the same with hamburgers, sandwiches, Southern-style sides, and plenty of fried fare ranging from chicken to shrimp. The release teased that a few items from Top Notch’s secret menu might be made permanent at the new location.

Top Notch is the third hospitality project to announce a location at Hutto Co-Op. Flix Brewhouse and another classic restaurant, Southside Market, confirmed that they would be part of the project in May 2018.