Something’s New at Hwy 55 on Main Street in Shallotte
Kachina Robertson takes the reigns of the retro diner from Chris LaCoe.
Driving down Main Street Shallotte, just before it intersects with Highway 17, your eye catches a glimpse of posters featuring cheeseburgers, shakes, fries and root beer floats. No, you have not crossed the time barrier. You’ve found Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, a retro diner.
One of the things that sets this diner apart from other burger places is its open-to-the-customer grill and a menu that goes well beyond burgers to include seafood, chicken and more. There’s even a frozen custard bar.
From my own personal tasting experience I can attest that the root beer float is outstanding — a taste of my childhood. The roots of the chain are evident in its Carolina-style cheeseburger with chili, onions and slaw and its pimento cheeseburger with house-made pimento cheese and three strips of bacon — as delicious as it is iconic.
The location opened 15 years ago as an Andy’s Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers, changed its name to Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries along with the rest of the Carolina-based chain in 2011–12 and is now under new ownership. Kachina Robertson took over the location from retiring Chris La Coe in 2018.
Robertson, a Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce member, is focusing attention on this Hwy 55 location’s community involvement as well on its made-to-order delicious food. The eatery participates in fundraisers for local schools and charitable organizations.
“We are a community restaurant that believes in love your neighbor,” Robertson says. “I believe that it is my responsibility as a business owner to give back to the community that takes care of us.”
This is Robertson’s first purchase of a Hwy 55, but she is not new to the brand or its philosophy of success through servant leadership and community service. She started out in the Leland location as a server and then moved to the Hwy 55 home office in Mt. Olive, where she spent seven years as an area operator and trainer for new franchisees. She recently shared her enthusiasm for the brand and the community and serving up great food in her Shallotte location with Life in Brunswick County.
Life in Brunswick County: Why did you want to purchase a franchise and then, specifically, this franchise?
Robertson: Hwy 55 (or then Andy’s) was my first and only job. I started in the Leland location at age 17 and only two years in as an ambitious 19-year-old I decided that growing with this company is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It’s the culture of servant leadership that is rooted in the love-your-neighbor philosophy that engaged my interest. I’m able to successfully own a business that gives back to the community I do business in, while I’m also able to have a positive impact on future generations as an employer.
We take pride in providing a great place for people to work. We teach foundational skills in customer service and servant leadership to our employees, to many of our employees this is their first job. We most importantly have opportunities for growth and success. More than 50 of our franchisees in Hwy 55 started out as minimum wage cooks or servers and now own their own businesses, and I am one of those 50!
Life in Brunswick County: How does this management philosophy translate into customer service?
Robertson: One of the greatest compliments I receive is when a guest asks how we can get the young generation of employees to care so much and work so hard. The answer is we simply care about their growth as individuals in the workplace. We as servant leaders in Hwy 55, care about each employee and their success inside and out of our four walls. That is what transfers to the guest’s experience; positive employees create a positive experience for our guests.
Life in Brunswick County: What is the menu like?
Robertson:Our food is fresh, made to order and served to you quickly, but most importantly it’s delicious! We are a retro diner, open seven days a week from 11 am to 9 pm, so perfect for lunch, dinner and any sweet tooth in between. The star of the show is the cheeseburger, but we have many other favorites like our made-to-order cheesesteaks, shrimp burgers or po’boys and our hand-breaded or grilled chicken tenders. My personal favorite is anything from our frozen custard bar. We have the best premium ice cream, and with so many toppings to choose from the flavor selection is amazing. Milkshakes are a must have.
The versatility means there is something for every appetite, and we cook everything to order so all special requests or needs can be met. Because we cook to order, most often we are able to meet the needs of our guests with certain allergies. Our staff is trained to ask the right questions and present our products and processes with openness when discussing allergies with our guests.
Life in Brunswick County: How does your Hwy 55 location contribute to the Shallotte area?
Robertson: Shallotte is a tight-knit community, and we have so many loyal regulars plus local business support. And the local chamber of commerce is a wonderful resource. Shallotte is growing tremendously; more folks are discovering that this is a great community to live, work and raise your children.
Hwy 55 has its own nonprofit, The Andy’s Foundation. The Foundation supports many national causes, including Make A Wish and Miracle League. This year we are working with Miracle to create a synthetic field in our area to help disabled children enjoy sports.
When we are not raising money for the Andy’s Foundation, we look for ways to give back to our community. We host Pancake Breakfast fundraisers for organizations such as the Shallotte Lion’s Club. We also host Spirit Night Fundraisers. This is the most popular fundraiser as it requires very little footwork ahead of time. We’ve recently hosted the youth cheerleading team, the Shallotte Buccaneers and have events coming in October for Pawsability and Union Elementary.
“We can make a difference in our little part of this world through one cheeseburger and one smile at a time.”
If you are already salivating be sure to check out the location’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/hwy55burgersshallotte, where, (through October 18) you can win a $25 gift certificate simply for sharing and tagging a friend.
Laura Glantz Photography