Village Burger in Dunwoody is more than just a hamburger restaurant. It’s become a place where the community congregates for bike rides or special events. The recipe for its success has led to the opening of two more Village Burger restaurants — one in Johns Creek and another just last month in Tucker. The Dunwoody spot is located at 1426 Dunwoody Village Pkwy, Dunwody, GA 30338.

If his last name sounds familiar, it is. He’s the son of Dick Gephardt, the Missouri Democrat who served in Congress for nearly 30 years and ran for president a couple of times. Matt’s parents now live in Florida.
There’s no politics at Village Burger, however. Matt Gephardt said the mission of the neighborhood burger joint is to bring people together for a good meal. For more information, visit villageburger.com.

Matt Gephardt, right, with his business partner and the other co-owner of Village Burger, Ricardo Gonzalo. (Special)

Q: Does your dad like to eat at Village Burger?
A: He is an investor in Village Burger and always wants to eat at the restaurant when he comes into town. He loves the turkey burger at Village Burger, to the point of obsession!

Q: How did you end up in Dunwoody?
A: My wife, Tricia, grew up in Dunwoody and after we got married, we wanted to live near family. Her parents lived here, so we decided to move to Dunwoody to be near them before we started our own family. That was in early 2001, so we have been in Dunwoody for almost 17 years and we couldn’t think of a better place to raise a family!

Q: Who owns the restaurant?
A: Village Burger is owned by a group of investors, most of whom live in Dunwoody. From the beginning, it was important to us that Village Burger be “from the people of Dunwoody, for the people of Dunwoody.”

Q: Why did you want to open in Dunwoody?
A: Village Burger opened in September 2010. It has always been located in Dunwoody Village, in its current location, which was previously a Bruster’s ice cream shop. We wanted to open in Dunwoody because that is where we live and we thought the community needed a neighborhood burger joint, where families could go to get a delicious handmade meal at a reasonable price.

Q: There are now a couple more Village Burgers, in Johns Creek and Tucker. How did those come about?
A: We have customers visit Village Burger Dunwoody from across the Atlanta metro area. We often receive requests from these customers to bring a Village Burger to their community. We are always on the lookout for a town like Dunwoody, where a Village Burger would be welcomed and would be able to thrive. When we find such a community, we will look for a potential location, which is how the Village Burgers in Johns Creek and Tucker were started.

Q: What’s your favorite meal at your own restaurant?
A: That is a tough question! While we are admittedly biased and love all the food on our menu, it is hard not to enjoy a hot and juicy Village Burger with our favorite fresh toppings and a side of hand-cut seasoned fries dipped in our signature homemade Village Sauce.

Q: How did you come up with the name?
A: We came up with the name Village Burger because we were opening in the Dunwoody Village and we wanted the name to reflect the fact that the restaurant is a part of the community. We think it conveys what makes us special, which is the fact that we are not a chain restaurant with ownership and control from afar; we are owned by people in the community, who are committed to serve the communities we do business in.

Q: How did you come up with the main menu?
A: We started with the basic concept that everything would be fresh, never frozen and made from scratch. The first menu was fairly simple — certified Angus burgers, Hebrew National hot dogs and hand-cut french fries. We also offered beer and wine.
Over time and based on customer feedback, we added a turkey burger, veggie burger, salads, onion rings, pickle chips, chili and a few other fresh items. Our goal is to have high quality products at a value-based price.

Q: Did you grow up going to a restaurant like Village Burger?
A: There wasn’t one in particular, but many towns all across the U.S. have a neighborhood “burger joint” where the people gather after family events and are likely to run into a friend or neighbor. In some ways we think we’re recreating the early days of Dairy Queen or McDonald’s.

Q: What was the first day of business like at Dunwoody’s Village Burger?
A: We will never forget it. It was Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. We put out a short message on Facebook announcing our opening and within an hour the line was out the door. We didn’t know what to expect and we got slammed. We are grateful that the community was patient with us as we learned our way.

Q: Do you have regulars who get the same dishes every time they come? Or do you most of your customers like to try new stuff each visit?
A: We have a mix of both. Our staff works hard to get to know our regulars and their preferences. Some people even sit in the same seat each visit. Many people come in a few times per week — one time they will have a burger and fries, the next time something a little healthier like a salad.

Q: What famous people eat at your restaurant? Any movie stars since the movies have come to Dunwoody in recent years?
A: We’ve had a number of professional and ex-professional athletes visit our stores. We’re not sure of any movie stars stopping in, but we’ve had some initial inquiries from producers about filming at the restaurant. Maybe that will happen one day!

Q: What’s the best part of owning a restaurant? The hardest part?
A: The best part of owning Village Burger is seeing a full house on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Seeing the community together enjoying each other’s company and a good meal is a lot of fun. We also really enjoy our annual Employee Appreciation Party every November. We bring all of our employees and their families for a big party. It’s a night when the owners get to serve the employees that do such a great job serving our customers.

The hardest part of owning a restaurant is the pace of the business. Village Burger is “on stage” every day and we have to perform well to keep our customers happy and coming back.