Santa Maria Sun / Biz Brief
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 9
Spotlight on: Deckers
BY FRANK GONZALES
As the manager of Deckers, a popular burger joint in Santa Maria, Patrick Corbo knows a thing or two about what goes into his spectacular version of America’s favorite sandwich.
“We [use] locally grown fresh ground beef and turkey. When you get a burger, it’s actually a meat ball [that] we actually cook right there and smash it down. That kind of seals all the flavors in the burger,” he said. “That’s what makes them so good.”
With a few simple seasonings—like salt and pepper—the fresh, hand-formed hamburger patties simply melt in your mouth. At Deckers, customers should feel free to also throw in some cheese, traditional toppings like lettuce, tomato, onions, and even go for the restaurant’s namesake with some extra patties, all inside a superior grilled bun. A full meal can be had for prices that compete with the chains’ ammonia-pink-slime-treated patties.
Corbo has been working at Deckers, on the second level of the Santa Maria Town Center, for more than three years. He began only a few months after the business opened and appreciated what owner Greg Kozak, who also owns Central City Market and Simplice, was trying to do with the retro black-and-white interior and the old advertisements on the walls.
“I like the concept of this business,” he said. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 20 years … . It’s an opportunity to serve really good burgers.”
Unlike some burger businesses, which get into too many menu items and subsequently lose sight of their core mission, Deckers has kept things simple, high-quality, and consistent. Of the popular menu items that customers ask for apart from burgers, Corbo singled out the chili-cheese fries, the Deckers dog, and the tuna, egg salad, and grilled cheese sandwiches. That also mostly sums up the menu. With Corbo’s deliberately narrow focus, no item disappoints.
“We just try to produce a really good burger and keep it consistent,” he said.
While Corbo mentioned In-N-Out and Santa Maria Burger as some of his main competition, having a shop inside a mall poses its own special challenges and opportunities.
“Our busiest time of the year is November and December,” he said. “Our weekends are usually the busiest time of the week. It all depends on a lot, too—you know, what’s going on in the mall, if there are events going on or different sales.”
Once the restrooms are completed on the first floor of the mall near the current food court, Corbo sees Deckers moving down there at some point over the summer. He’s also noticed increased business thanks to the recent sale of the mall and the subsequent reshuffling of stores.
“I’d say there’s more business in the mall. There are businesses coming and going, some of them are relocating throughout the mall. They’re just getting ready for when the movie theaters open,” he said.
Corbo is especially happy about those incoming screens: “We’ll have a lot more traffic.”
The other half of Deckers’ success can be found in the friendly reception customers receive from Corbo and the two staff members working at any time. Corbo underlined the importance of addressing any problem rapidly and added, “Everything here [customers say] is always ‘really great burger,’ ‘best burger,’ a lot of those kind of compliments. We just try to focus on really good customer service as well—making sure everything is always good for the [guests].”
To that end, Corbo takes a very hands-on approach to management, helping to make the food himself and opening and closing the store every day.
“There are always issues, I mean little things, but with customers everyone is usually happy all the time,” he said.
And then there’s Corbo’s passion for the food business and the people he gets to interact with through his job.
“I enjoy doing it,” he said. “I like the people who come into the mall.”
He prides himself on extending the same care to his employees: “I like to mentor and train people who haven’t had a lot of experience in this business. Whenever we do specials or anything [else], I show them how to do it. I try to prepare them if they want to move on later to other restaurants or whatever they want to do in life.
At Deckers, people first become customers to try out the burgers, but they stay customers thanks to the well-trained staff.
Deckers is on the second floor of the Santa Maria Town Center at 381 Town Center East in Santa Maria.
Biz Spotlight was written by Intern Frank Gonzales. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.
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