Q&A with Kenny Mills at the Original Chop House Burgers

millsby Steven Doyle

I have known this week’s chef for quite a while. He has an air of no-nonsense charisma that makes for a unique chef that has blazed a trail in the DFW area for many years now,  loading us up with beef created many different ways, from a bountiful haunch plated pretty to a fantastic bunned bit of savoriness.

No doubt that as an avid reader of these pages you have heard mention of chef Kenny Mills who re-opened his award winning Original Chop House Burgers in Arlington just recently to accolades. A man who makes a burger that we queue up for with bated breath. A man we just recently sat with and discussed his interesting history.

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Hello Kenny! You just re-opened the Original Chop House Burger, how did they come to pass?

 

The Original Chop House Burgers opened in in November of 2010 and we had success through July of 2018. I had a health problem that left me too tired to continue so I sold the place, but they didn’t want to work it and it closed after a year.

Was the restaurant successful?

It was and it is. We were featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that made is especially busy.  We were doing 1.2 million in business and enjoying the success. When  we opened in June this year [2019] we had lines to grab our the Original Chop House Burger.  That burger is 80% of our sales.

What is the Original all about?

The Chop House burger is grilled and made of beef and brisket, with a house-made steak sauce, apple wood bacon and cheddar cheese. It is really something.

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Sounds perfect, and they are really just the right size, too. How did you start out?

In 1975 I was a busboy and  dishwasher at King’s Table in Arlington. I knew then I wanted to be a chef, but couldn’t  afford the CIA [Culinary Institute of America] so I went to the school of hard knocks.  I  went on to work at TGI Fridays in Arlington; back then it was a real scratch kitchen and we cooked some great food. I was at the second On The Border for four years, that’s when I thought I knew it all. I opened Cowboy Cafe in the Stockyards in Fort Worth. That’s the same building where Horseshoe Hill Cafe is now.

That is impressive. But you have some high-end steakhouse experience where you really cut your teeth.

I do. I worked at Sullivan’s in Dallas with Jeff Barker who works with Richard Chamberlain now. I had a big stint with Capital Grille, Little Katana and Dallas Restaurant Group’s Dallas Chop House.

Dallas Chop House has a strange ending leading up to you resigning.

They hired Tesar [John Tesar] as culinary director and he brought in his own people. It ended when he threw a bread bucket at me. I resigned.  That led up to me opening The Original Chop House Burgers in Arlington.

I do  love that place. It gained a lot of momentum, and you did Guy Fieri’s show on the Food Network. How did that come to pass? I know  a few other local businesses that he featured and they just exploded.

I asked them that same thing and they said it was not just one story, or one person talking about the restaurant. It was all the talk, and all the people. I was blessed.

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You closed due to health reasons and your son held it together for a time. I know he is still at Cooper’s in Sylvan|Thirty. Tell us what happened there and after.

Coopers is from San Antonio and opened an outpost in Dallas where I was hired to butcher and run the steakhouse. I hired my son to help and he remained after I left to open up what was supposed to be a series of Hambone Willies. I think they are about to open an other location in Frisco now. I also worked for Jack Perkins at Mockingbird Diner before it finally closed.  But that is about the time I decided to do the Original Chop House Burgers again. It was time.

That’s quite a ride. So tell us about what you are doing now.

We are doing extremely well with the Original Chop House Burgers. We have a nice menu with that burger doing so well, plus I make a great chili with cheese and onions, a gumbo, a slow smoked pulled pork topped burger. We still have the famous ten pepper burger with red and green bell peppers, jalapenos, New Mexico chile, arbol, ancho, gualjillo, habanero and Tabasco  chiles. You will love that. Lots of burgers. Homemade pies, too.

Out back we will have a dog park soon with treats for the pups like eggs and bacon. We have horseshoes and cornhole, a beer and wine license coming soon. There’s quite a bit going on.

Sounds like a place we want to go to often. That burger sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing your story  with us, and we wish you much success.

Original Chop House Burgers | 2502 Little Road, Arlington | 682.213.2253

 

 

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