Martin’s Kum-Bak Place: Nearly century-old diner by UT campus expands, rebrands

Features a hamburger or cheeseburger with any $3 side and a soda or tea

Features a hamburger or cheeseburger with any $3 side and a soda or tea

Image description
The Kum-Bak Special ($8.95)
Image description
Chili Queso Tots ($6.95)
Image description
Limeade and lemonade ($3.25)
Image description
Martin’s Kum-Bak Place: Nearly century-old diner by UT campus expands, rebrands
Image description
Martin’s Kum-Bak Place: Nearly century-old diner by UT campus expands, rebrands
Image description
Martin’s Kum-Bak Place: Nearly century-old diner by UT campus expands, rebrands
Image description
Martin’s Kum-Bak Place: Nearly century-old diner by UT campus expands, rebrands
Austin has grown from a sleepy town to a big city, but Martin’s Kum-Bak Place—just blocks from The University of Texas at Austin—is a time capsule of the city’s past, owner Mark Nemir said.

Devoted to the timeless recipes that have served the hamburger joint well over its 91 years in business, Martin’s Kum-Bak remains a familiar haunt to both the old Austin holdovers and newcomers who grew up going to similar dining establishments.

“What we do is what we’ve done,” said Nemir, who has been connected to the business for about 29 years and is the second in his family tree to own the property. “We do it like we’ve always done it. That was one thing I was determined to do when I bought the place.”

That means fresh hamburger patties, making most of every food item in-house, hand-dipping milkshakes and serving cold beer, he said.

But a faithfulness to the product and its generations-deep customer base does not always mean maintaining the status quo.

The diner, known by a variety of names over the years, rebranded to its original name after a few decades of being known as Dirty Martin’s. Nemir said the “dirty” part of the name was perhaps creating a negative image.

“Actually the dirty came from [the fact that the diner used to have] dirt floors,” Nemir said. “My granddad put concrete here; there’s no foundation under ... part of the building.”

Martin’s Kum-Bak also completed a renovation of its 91-year-old space in October. The project involved enclosing its outdoor patio, adding 10 flat-screen televisions and a stage for live music as well as large picnic tables to accommodate groups and private events. The business obtained a full liquor license and unveiled a new cocktail menu after the construction project was complete.

Mixed drinks, such as the Longhorn Iced Tea ($7), Backroom Rita ($7) and the Burnt Orange Crush ($6) are now available along with draft and bottled beer.

Featuring such time-honored staples as the Kum-Bak Hamburger ($4.25 for a small), the D.H. Special ($5.50) and the O.T. Special ($5.95), the food menu keeps such customers as Ken Zarifis coming back. The Martin’s regular—he dines at the restaurant once a week by himself and once more with his family—said it brings back fond childhood memories of his favorite greasy spoon.

“It’s just a such nostalgic experience for me because it’s what I was used to growing up” in small-town Iowa, Zarifis said. “It’s a basic restaurant just wanting to serve people decent food.”

Martin’s Kum-Bak Place
2808 Guadalupe St., Austin
512-477-3173
www.dirtymartins.com
Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
By JJ Velasquez
The Central Austin editor since 2016, JJ covers city government and other topics of community interest—when he's not editing the work of his prolific writers. He began his tenure at Community Impact Newspaper as the reporter for its San Marcos | Buda | Kyle edition covering local government and public education. The Laredo, Texas native is also a web developer whose mission is to make the internet a friendly place for finding objective and engaging news content.


MOST RECENT

Mercury Hall will close in 2021. (Courtesy Mercury Hall)
Mercury Hall property cleared for 5-story apartment development

Mercury Hall will close after June 2021, and a dense multifamily development is set to arrive in its wake.

Buddy's Burger is open in Northeast Austin off of Cameron Road. (Courtesy Buddy's Burger)
Now open in Austin: Party Barn is back, drive-in movies downtown, burgers in North Austin and more

Blue Starlite began showing drive-in movies downtown in September. Buddy's Burger is open off Cameron Road and planning to expand to more locations, and new bar High Noon is open on the east side.

City Post is located at 113 E. Eighth St., Georgetown. (Courtesy City Post)
Georgetown to get steakhouse, speakeasy plus more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

Easy Tiger announced Sept. 18 it had closed its downtown Austin location on Sixth Street. (Courtesy Easy Tiger)
Easy Tiger announces permanent closure of original Sixth Street location

The local bakery and restaurant remains open at the Linc and still plans to open in South Austin.

A photo of a "sold" sign
Central Austin August housing market numbers show high dollar-volume sales

While housing inventory remains low, home prices continue to rise.

Pflugerville's testing location is operated from 8 a.m.-noon Monday through Saturday where a maximum of 300 people can be tested each day at the site. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Coronavirus testing site in Pflugerville to move and more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

Lions Municipal Golf Course clubhouse (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
State-created Save Muny Historic District to take over concession responsibilities at historic golf course

Negotiations over the fate of the Lions Municipal Golf Course remain ongoing between the city and The University of Texas board of regents.

Central Health administrative building in Austin
Central Health finalizes budget with increased tax rate, more health care services for low-income residents

Local health care district Central Health is budgeting a nearly $20 million increase in health care delivery services for Austin’s low-income residents.

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Baylor Scott & White Health to host 9 Austin-area drive-thru flu shot clinics

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock.

A band performs at the Mohawk on Red River Street. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Six months into pandemic, Austin officials scrambling to save music venues, child care facilities and restaurants

City Council is set to begin making choices on which businesses to try to save on Oct. 1.

Dr. Sam Rolon is a physician for Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine in The Woodlands. (Courtesy St. Luke's Health)
Q&A: St. Luke's physician shares advice on flu season, vaccine and prevention

The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly all patients of all ages ahead of this year's flu season, Dr. Sam Rolon said.

student in mask
TEA launches statewide COVID-19 dashboard for public schools

The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has launched its latest COVID-19 dashboard for positive cases in Texas public schools.