BY CHRIS TAKAHASHI | STAFF WRITER
Chubbies Burgers, owned and operated by Jeffrey Nedry, came to fruition this past summer and can be found at Kakaʻako’s monthly “Eat the Street” event as well as locations throughout Oʻahu, from downtown Honolulu to Kapolei. On weekends you’ll likely find Chubbies Burgers at Sandy Beach.
A full (subject to change) schedule can be found at http://www.chubbiesburgers.com. For the most accurate schedule and updates of its daily location, be sure to check out its Instagram account @chubbieshawaii.
Chubbies, which operates as a food truck only, has a menu that offers high-quality local ingredients at a reasonable price. Chubbies also features “smash style” burgers – juicy and flavorful – that are unique to the islands.
Before opening Chubbies Burgers for business, Nedry received a certificate in Entrepreneurship from KCC. The idea for a business like Chubbies has a been a goal of Nedry’s for many years.
Below is an interview with Jeffrey Nedry:
Tell me about your background and some of your earliest memories with food.
I grew up in southern California and was constantly around that culture, and it’s very distinctive, and food is a big part of that. I moved out here almost five years ago [to Oʻahu] because I was ready for a challenge and to see what I could accomplish. Within the first couple weeks I was here, I was like “Man, there’s not too many good burger places on the island.” That was really the start of Chubbies for me.
My earliest memories with food … I come from a family of four, and my mom is a single mom, and she cooked every night. I helped out with cooking a lot. We went out to eat maybe once a month. That was a treat for us. So, [there was] a lot of home cooking that I was constantly around. I started working at restaurants while in high school and have stayed in the industry. I don’t have a professional background as a chef, but when I worked in restaurants I did everything from being a server, bartender, and restaurant manager. I’ve always known I wanted to do something on my own. When the opportunity with the food truck came up, I decided to pursue the concept of Chubbies.
How’d you take the idea for Chubbies and start your business?
As for the idea of Chubbies, it slowly evolved. I basically took it one step at a time. Could I get a truck? OK, this is working out. Could I hire someone to help me? Can we make a menu and get the products that we need to get? Eventually we opened our business [this past summer].
Tell me about you source your ingredients?
I didn’t have too many connections with food distributors here [in Hawaii], so, I made phone calls. Do you guys carry these types of products? Could you bake these buns for us? Can you tell me about your grass-fed beef? Eventually I found different distributors that I wanted to work with. That took a lot of trial and error. We’re [constantly] improving, so it’s kind of like a never-ending trial and error. We used to get Big Island grass-fed beef but recently switched over to Kaua‘i grass-fed beef because we like the flavor a little better. We’ll always be evolving.
Chubbies Burgers is becoming known for its ’50s-style burgers. What’s the concept behind the menu and approach to food?
When describing our business, I always use the word simple. It’s burgers and fries. We wanted to have small, concise menu with options and everything has been thought out. We want [Chubbies] to have a classic style and classic feel.
Chubbies has unique sauces for each menu item. How did those come about?
The sauces are one thing I’m proud of, and it took months of work. All of them were thought out [ahead of time] but in some cases we’d taste 20 different versions of one sauce. All of the sauces have something fresh and all have more or less a secret ingredient. It’s one thing that we’re really proud of and we don’t charge extra. It’s something that is really apart of us.
What’s the most popular burger on the menu?
The best seller is probably our ’50s burger. It’s something familiar to most people and when they [customers] come back they’ll try different toppings or a different burger. A lot of people love that burger.
With the fusion food culture found here in Hawaiʻi, has that had any impact on the menu?
To tell you the truth, if anything, we’ve avoided fusion [influence] in our food. But, when we do special items at events that gives us the opportunity to be creative and to draw from fusion cuisine. But, if we do more menu items in the future, there could be some Pacific Rim elements.
What are some of your fondest memories with Chubbies Burgers?
I definitely have a lot of happy memories. I need a minute to think about this (laughs). About a month into the business we went down to Sandy Beach and we weren’t sure if there was going to be some animosity with the other food trucks. But we went down there and they were super friendly. Going to Sandy’s every week is really nice. Even though we’re open and I’m working, I’m still down at the beach.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for content.]