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


MOST RECENT

Photo of a woman receiving a vaccine
Travis County vaccine providers receive 46,540 doses week of March 1

Seton Medical Center in Austin received the largest allocation this week, with over 14,000 doses.

Matthew McConaughey, see, here at SXSW 2019, will be one of this year's virtual SXSW speakers. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
SXSW's virtual festival, the PGA Tour returns and more events in Austin this month

From Amplify Austin Day beginning 6 p.m. on March 4 to Bill Gates discussing his new book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster," here are eight events happening this month in the Austin area, including both in-person and virtual options.




Ice covered utility lines across Austin. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
SHARE YOUR STORY: How did you survive the Texas freeze?

We want to hear how the winter storms affected you.

Q2 Stadium
Austin FC preseason scrimmages planned for late March start

Preseason matches for Austin FC will be held in South Austin ahead of the team's inaugural MLS season.

Lawmakers began hearings Feb. 25 to hear from energy executives about what led to dayslong power outages following a Feb. 14 winter storm. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin weekly roundup: The storm is over, but the questions are just beginning

In hearings last week, a state senator from the Houston area called the power and water outages in Texas "the largest trainwreck in the history of degregulated electricity."

Crawfish season,  from mid-January through June, is the busiest time at Shoal Creek Saloon. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shoal Creek Saloon brings a piece of New Orleans to Austin

COVID-19 has dealt the Shoal Creek Saloon a blow, but owner Ray Canfield is hanging in there and said he was prepared for a disaster. He just thought it would be another flood, not a virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine for emergency authorization use Feb. 26. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recommended for emergency authorization use by FDA

This is the third COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for emergency authorization use after those produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company Moderna.

Josh Frank, owner of Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in for more than a decade, holds up a Blue Starlite-branded mask. (Photo by Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Long-time Austin theater Blue-Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In takes on new life in pandemic

Drive-in theater Blue Starlite found itself in a unique position in 2020: After more than 10 years as a small business “just getting by,” demand for drive-in movies exploded, owner Josh Frank said.

The University of Texas Radio-Television-Film department will be offering virtual camps this summer. (Courtesy The University of Texas)
2021 Central Austin summer camp guide: 44 options including virtual and in-person offerings

Our list of camps happening in Austin this summer includes options focusing on academics, arts, sports and language.

Samsung's proposed $17 billion chip-making plant would dwarf other recent megaprojects that sought tax incentives in the region.
Samsung’s request to pay no property tax on $17 billion plant tests Austin’s incentive policy

Samsung is asking for 100% property tax reimbursement over 25 years, which would mark the most aggressive corporate tax break in Austin history.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Austin ISD students will begin the 2021-22 school year Tuesday, Aug. 17. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at Austin ISD’s newly approved calendar for the 2021-22 school year

Austin ISD trustees have approved the academic calendar for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.