Burger restaurant changes name to prepare for national expansion
By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 12, 2011 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Andy's Burgers Shakes and Fries, known for its unique mixture of 1950s decor and employees who run to open the doors as they greet customers, will get a new name as the company moves outside the borders of North Carolina.
The new name, Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries, is owner Kenney Moore's homage to his company's small-town roots. The change will affect all of the company's more than 100 North Carolina stores as well.
Moore announced in February that he was taking his company regional, possible national. However, the name Andy's is already trademarked by a Missouri company.
It has been 20 years since Moore opened his first Andy's Burgers Shakes and Fries at Berkeley Mall in Goldsboro. The store is named after his son.
"We are going to do the same products and inside the menu, I think it is important for people to understand, you are still going to buy an Andy's sized cheeseburger," Moore said. "You are still going to get Emma' s frozen custard. My kids will still be represented. They will just be represented inside the menu instead of outside.
"It is with mixed feelings that we do this, but it is almost like a fresh start -- 20 years later we are still going to be doing the same great products but under a different banner."
The menu is not changing nor is the service that the company built its reputation on, Moore said.
The plan is to leave the existing big logo on the corporate headquarters on the Old Mount Olive Highway, while adding the new one. The Mount Olive restaurant probably will be among the first to undergo the name change.
"We ran into a bit of a buzz saw when we found out we could not use the name Andy's outside the state of North Carolina," said Adam Wiggins, marketing director at Andy's. "Andy's Frozen Custard out of Missouri has the federal trademark for Andy's. We can't use Andy's Burgers Shakes and Fries. We can't use Big Andy's, Little Andy's. We can't use Andy's at all. That is the way the law is. They have got it.
"We got the lawyers to check into it and sure enough they said we were going to run into trouble if we move out of the state of North Carolina with it. So we kind of went to the drawing boards and what we come up with is Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries and moving forward outside North Carolina it is going to be Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries."
Slowly but surely the company will be changing the store names in North Carolina as well, he said. The new stores built outside the state will all be Hwy 55 Burger Shakes and Fries to start with, he said.
Moore said it just made sense to have all the restaurants share the same name for many reasons and helps avoid confusion.
"It was something that we had to do to expand outside the borders of North Carolina. We had to change our name," Moore said. "Basically they were telling us we had to come up with a fanciful name, a name that somebody else didn't have. I tried to get a symbol done so we could be the restaurant formerly known as Andy's, like Prince. The trademark attorney failed to see the humor in that.
"It was frustrating and frankly it hurt my feelings and it disturbed me a little. One, the restaurants are named after my son, and two, we also have put our heart and soul into kind of building that brand and in building that name over the past 20 years. Then to be told that one smaller company than us out in the Midwest can tell us whether or not we can use that name moving forward is very disappointing and disconcerting."
After two or three weeks of "gyrations" the company settled on the name Highway 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries, he said.
"It is retro and we are going to use the old retro kind of feel and the (highway) shield," Moore said. "(The highway) comes into our town that we are based in."
Moore said he had not known about the town's old 55 Drive-in that had been located on North Church Street at Park Avenue until his father-in-law, Jimmy Williams, had told him about it.
"He told me and I thought that was kind of nostalgic, too, that we were bringing that back," Moore said. "We have just got the word back from the attorneys today that it looks good and that we are free to roam the countryside with the name Hwy 55."
A lot goes on in preparing a company to move out of state, Wiggins said. The company is "getting it all ready" and within the next six weeks plans to start advertising to outside investors, meeting them and approving them for new restaurants.
Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries are expected to start being built outside the state within three to four months after that, he said.
"We are always going to be Andy's. That is where we come from, unfortunately we cannot move forward outside the state as Andy's," Moore said.