Faces & Places is a weekly series that profiles the people and places of Murray and the surrounding areas. Every person and every place has a story. Let us tell it.
It is nearing the end of the semester and students’ flex plans are running low while their meals are dwindeling. Students often look to places off campus for alternative places to eat. A place they often turn to is The Burrito Shack, conveniently located across the street from Pogue Library.
Owner Matt Gingles opened the restaurant in October 2009 with his father Ralph Gingles. Ralph owns a majority of the business and had invested his own money to help make The Burrito Shack possible.
“My dad called and asked me if I wanted to go in with him and open a restaurant,” Matt said. “I said yes, and we started looking for places here back in Murray.”
Matt graduated from Murray State in 2008 and moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he worked for Dell Computers for a year.
Eventually Ralph contacted his son and together they started the process of opening the restaurant.
“Every new business is going to be hard from the beginning, especially when you start from scratch,” Matt said.
They looked for inspiration for The Burrito Shack’s menu at other restaurants in nearby states. From there they were able to come up with their own unique recipes.
The whole process took approximately six months to complete, Matt said.
“There seemed to be a niche for Mexican food in Murray, and the closest place you could find something like this before we opened was in Nashville, two hours away,” Matt said. “We figured if you have something different, it just works.”
The Burrito Shack has been open for four years and Matt is continually looking for new ways to buy more nutritious ingredients.
“I think especially since we are an independent and locally owned, ‘mom and pop’ store, several members of the community are willing to go further out of their way or spend a little more to show their support,” Matt said. “And for supporting us, we give back in the form of donations to several different organizations and advertise with others as a way of supporting them.”
What many students don’t know about The Burrito Shack is that there is a food challenge. If a customer can eat three large burritos in 30 minutes, their food is free and their picture is placed on the wall. If they can eat four burritos in 40 minutes they get that plus a free T-shirt. But, if they can eat five burritos in less than 58 minutes then they also get to rename the challenge. So far, only one person has beaten the challenge and renamed it The Punisher.
“I have a friend who has beaten the three and the four challenge, and I’ve seen his picture on the wall at The Burrito Shack, and it’s just ridiculous; I don’t think I could do that,” said Ryan Christensen, senior from Berea, Ky.
Even though Qdoba Mexican Grill recently opened next to Cracker Barrel on North 12th Street, some students do not think it will be more popular than The Burrito Shack.
“I would say their only competition is Qdoba, but I don’t think it compares,” said Shea Lanaghan, junior from Millstadt, Ill. “The Burrito Shack has a lot more variety as far as flavor goes than Qdoba.”
As for the future of the business, Matt said he has plans to open another location in Paducah, Ky. He is currently going over leases and hopes to have it open by February.
Story by Brandon Cash, Staff writer