When Joe Duong opened The Shack on undeveloped land on Cypress Rosehill Road in 2011, he envisioned it as a backyard hangout spot with a few tables to serve loyal customers and friends. As time passed, the restaurant concept took off, and today Duong sees his now 300-seat restaurant filled every weekend.
"The growth was all from word-of-mouth," Duong said. "People seem to really dig this place, and they all tell their friends about it."
The first thing one notices about The Shack is the open and inviting seat layout. The main dining area features an array of picnic tables surrounding a fire pit, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a neighbor's backyard. To the left is a large covered area with a projection screen set up for movies. To the right is a barn-like area with more tables and a bar under construction. Toward the back are a collection of lawn chairs and tables overlooking a playground for children.
"I was tired of the traditional shopping center restaurant," Duong said. "I wanted to create a place that gives kids a chance to be kids and parents a chance to talk to their friends and neighbors, have a beer and just enjoy the environment."
Known mostly for its burgers, The Shack's menu is always evolving with new and seasonal items. Some burgers that have become popular for their distinct ingredients are the Mac & Cheese burger ($11) and The Bad Decision, which is made with two grilled cheese sandwiches instead of buns ($10).
An existing bar offers 20 beers on tap, and The Shack also works with distributors to bring in a variety of craft beers. Entertainment includes live music on weekends from local artists. Movies are screened on Wednesdays, and a DJ comes in to host karaoke sessions on Thursdays.
Plans for developing The Shack are ongoing. The new bar area—which Duong hopes will be complete before the Super Bowl in February—will feature televisions and an outdoor beer garden. Barn doors and heavy vinyl will also be installed on the barn to turn it into an indoor environment for cooler seasons.
Through all the growth, Duong said he has been loving the journey and hopes become the go-to burger joint in Cypress.
"I love to cook, meet people in the community and to build stuff," he said. "It's definitely a labor of love out here."
Owner Joe Duong's long-term dream for the restaurant involves continuing to develop his available land into a "Main Street" featuring a saloon, general merchandise store and a school house. Darts and other carnival games for kids would be a part of the design as well.
Duong also hopes to turn The Shack into a true "farm-to-table" restaurant. Although The Shack does grow some herbs on its property, Duong said he would like to grow his own tomatoes, lettuce, 1015 onions and peppers.
Duong said he plans to work toward his dream over the course of the next year, with a goal of having it all complete after 24 months, pending permit approval from the county.
- Cooter Jack—Beef, jack cheese, smokey barbecue sauce, chipotle mayo, topped with onion strings ($8)
- Fireman—Beef, pepper jack cheese, bacon, topped with fried pickles and finished off with a spicy honey drizzle ($11)
- The Lady Bird—Chicken breast, Tillamook cheddar, slab bacon and avocado ($8)
- The Bang-Bang-Bang Turkey Burger Baby—Turkey burger, provolone, pesto, slab bacon ($9)
- Signature O-Strings—1015 onion strings with signature butter milk batter, served as an appetizer ($4)
- Southern Rock—Hand-cut fries topped with brisket, bacon and cheese, served as an appetizer ($7)
- Two recently added burgers to the menu are the Fireman—which was created in honor of, and to raise money for, the Houston firefighters who died in June—and the HannaBanana, which features beef, bacon, caramelized banana and spicy Thai Peanut Sauce($12).
- The Shack also has seasonal burgers. The fall pumpkin burger was debuted this year, and a winter burger is in the works.
16602 Cypress Rosehill Road, Cypress
Hours: Tue.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Closed Mon.