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Keep Austin Local: Top Notch Hamburgers leans into its movie history

Top Notch celebrates 49 years in 2020. Learn more about its movie features and its survival method during the coronavirus pandemic.

AUSTIN, Texas — We’ve seen many businesses shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. KVUE wants to help "Keep Austin Local" by highlighting small businesses that might need a little help. 

This week, KVUE stopped at Top Notch Hamburgers for carhop service. Top Notch – known for its chicken sandwiches, chargrilled burgers and onion rings – closed its dine-in area in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to co-owner Kelly Chappell, the dine-in area supported about 60% of the business, while the carhop service accounted for about 40%.

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Because of the pandemic closing local businesses, Chappell has seen this as a revitalization of the carhop service. Before, people would park in the carhop area and walk into the restaurant. 

While long-time customers visit because of the food, other customers may recognize the burger joint because of its feature in the movies "Dazed and Confused" and "Varsity Blues." 

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When Chappell became co-owner about 10 years ago, he started to really emphasize the movie connections. Staff now wear hats and/or shirts referencing "Dazed and Confused."

While the restaurant celebrates 49 years in 2020, Chappell said they are still planning how to celebrate the 50th anniversary next year.


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In the coming weeks and months, Top Notch plans to have a socially distant dining room open with a glass barrier between the kitchen and dining areas. According to Katie Adams, one of the supervisors at Top Notch, the restaurant is the only one in Travis County with an indoor charcoal grill.

The grill master, Mike Fresch, has been serving up burgers and onion rings for nearly 25 years. While not giving the cooking secrets away, Fresch describes the onion rings as "lovely" and the charcoal grill gives the burgers a special, distinct flavor.

WATCH: Top Notch Hamburgers' co-owner talks surviving the COVID-19 pandemic 


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