When designing the menu of J-Dub's Burger Barn, owner Richard Whiteside said he wanted to capture the creativity of the home cook.
"[If you're making a hamburger] in your kitchen, you're going to look in your refrigerator and put whatever you want on it. That's our whole concept," Whiteside said.
After serving in the U.S. Army, Whiteside worked in the IT field for nearly two decades. He decided to open J-Dub's Burger Barn in 2012 after finding success at regional cook-offs, he said.
"I used to eat at burger places in [Houston], these good burgers that you could build yourself, and Katy didn't have a place like that," he said. "I decided to get some of that homestyle flavor going here."
To that end, Whiteside said he goes out of his way to encourage his customers to get creative when it comes to their hamburgers and out of the mindset of the between-the-buns offerings served at chain restaurants.
"People have gotten so far away from the old days of short-order cooks that they come in here and ask me what they can do to their burgers," he said. "People come in here and say they want a burger, fries and a drink and they don't put much thought into it, and I'll encourage their creativity. I'll challenge them to put a fried egg or something else on there. You can have a different burger each time you come here."
The restaurant offers 11 different specialty toppings, such as chili, avocado and peanut butter, and five different cheeses. Whiteside said he has designed some of the restaurant's menu items, such as its Pizza Burger, to get people thinking outside of the to-go bag.
"It's got pepperoni, Italian sausage, marinara sauce, mozzarella and Italian seasoning in the patty," he said. "The only way I can describe it is that when you eat it, you'll think that it's exactly what a pizza hamburger should taste like. It surprises people."
Aside from its more unique offerings, Whiteside said he prides himself on being able to make a classic hamburger the right way.
"I take a brisket and run it through a grinder and mix it with 70/30 beef, and hand form all of the patties," he said. "It's never frozen."
Fresh-cut fries, fried pickles and potato spudz—Tater Tots filled with cheddar cheese and green chilies—are also available as sides to complement the burgers.
Since its opening, business has been steady, but Whiteside said he is not looking to get rich from his culinary endeavor.
"I want to be a mom-and-pop place where I can make good burgers for my neighbors and talk to them when they come in," he said.
Jalapeno burger: A patty topped with pepper jack cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and jalapenos on a jalapeno-cheddar bun. ($6.99)
Mushroom cheddar: A patty topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and diced mushrooms. ($6.99)
Homerun: Three patties totaling a pound of meat topped with bacon, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions, and American, pepper jack and cheddar cheeses. ($12.99)
My Maria: A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich served on Texas Toast with avocado and mayonnaise. ($5.79)
J-Dub's Burger Barn
5415 Fifth St., Katy, 832-437-9701, www.jdubsburgerbarn.com, Hours: Tue.–Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.