CORVALLIS — Mark Encke acknowledged that the rapid rise of Cheesy Stuffed Burgers, the business he owns with his wife Janice Encke and West Albany High School classmate Devan Elkins, has been a bit stressful at times.
“This is also a dream come true,” the 32-year-old said.
Cheesy Stuffed Burgers, which already had food carts in Corvallis and Albany, opened up its first brick-and-mortar location in downtown Corvallis about three weeks ago. And the business has jumped from 11 employees to 25 in the blink of an eye.
“It’s a really, really crazy feeling,” Encke said of the expansion.
The Corvallis storefront for Cheesy Stuffed Burgers offers options that aren’t available in its food carts, including chicken sandwiches, salads, milkshakes and jalapeno poppers.
And in a few years, perhaps 2020, Cheesy Stuffed Burgers is looking to expand with a sit-down restaurant in Albany, as well.
With the Corvallis restaurant, “I wanted this to be a franchise prototype,” Encke said. The business is tracking as much data as it can about the Corvallis location with hopes of replicating its success — and there have already been lines out the door during the lunch rush on many days.
The business partners have come a long way.
In September 2012, Encke dropped out of Linn-Benton Community College to open the modest Corvallis food cart on Monroe Avenue with Elkins, who was working a different 9-to-5 job. The business targeted the late-night bar crowd near the Oregon State University campus.
“We were seasonal. We both had other full-time jobs and did this on the side. It was a test of concept to see if people liked the food,” Encke said.
The Albany food cart opened in February 2016.
Encke said that when it came time to open a sit-down restaurant, there was something of vacuum for burgers on the Corvallis food scene. Brewpubs and other restaurants were offering quality burgers, but no one was specializing in the all-American grub.
In July, the Corvallis storefront will offer free delivery service with an order of $15 to anywhere in town, Encke said.
He added that his business remains in negotiation with Oregon State University about retaining a location inside Reser Stadium for Beaver football games.
If you go
Cheesy Stuffed Burgers Corvallis storefront, 453 Madison Ave., is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For to-go orders call 541-995-0638.
The Corvallis Cheesy food cart, 1545 NW Monroe Ave., is open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursday, and 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For to-go orders, call 541-714-5869.
The Albany Cheesy food cart, 815 Ninth Ave. SE, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. For to-go or delivery orders, call 541-936-9944.
For catering from Cheesy Stuffed Burgers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, go to www.cheesystuffedburgers.com or the business’ Facebook page.