Lifestyle

Bryan Kaeser of Mudhook is a Duncanville, Texas, Hometown Hero

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has shone a spotlight on new hometown heroes, people who have stepped up to help their Texas community. Bryan Kaeser, who opened Mudhook Bar & Kitchen on Duncanville’s Main Street in the fall of 2019, is one.

His small but cozy restaurant quickly became a popular local meeting spot, serving great burgers and fries as well as craft cocktails and local brews. Mudhook was popular with family groups as well as singles who enjoyed the friendly, small-town vibe. When many other Dallas County restaurants were forced to close their doors, Kaeser started curbside pickup and/or delivery for take-out orders, including burgers, beer, and even pre-packaged cocktails.

Next he started a convenience store for hard to find items. Kaeser said when he started noticing food shortages at local grocery stores, he talked to Mudhook’s restaurant suppliers. He learned they were overstocked due to restaurants closing. He said after spending 25 years in retail, it was an easy decision that if restaurant suppliers had a surplus and grocery stores were understocked, he could help fill that void.

“With the mandatory closing of indoor dining, I no longer needed tables or chairs. We just moved those out of the way and started buying supplies we heard were needed. My initial investment was about $12,000 for toilet paper, vinyl gloves, fresh produce, ground beef and other meats,” Kaeser said. “My main objective was to keep my restaurant going and provide for my employees, as well as help the community with their needs.”

Toilet Paper Top Seller

-Their best-selling item has been toilet paper, selling for $1.25 a roll or in bulk. Recently Mudhook advertised 600 lbs. of ground beef, 2,000 eggs (down from 3,000), 150 loaves of bread, 250 lbs. of potatoes, 100 lbs. of bananas, plus limes and avocados.

Mudhook is open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and closed on Monday. Restaurant take-out or delivery hours are the same for convenience store customers. Delivery is now handled by Nick, a Mudhook employee, for 3% of the total order.

“We haven’t announced any delivery zone limits yet,” Kaeser said. “So far we’ve delivered to Cedar Hill, Oak Cliff, Mansfield, and other cities. Just don’t ask us to go to Oklahoma!”

Before Dallas County issued the mandatory closing, Mudhook had 14 employees, now down to nine. His employees were all given an option to keep working or take the lay-offs, he said, and those remaining all chose to work. Employees taking the lay-off were all servers.

Free Meals for School Students

Bryan Kaeser of Mudhook, is a Duncanville, Texas, Hometown Hero

Photo: ©Christian Waits, All Rights Reserved

In July 2019, Kaeser opened Black & Bitter Coffee and Books, only a few doors down on Main Street. The coffee shop’s four employees are all on temporary lay-off, but plan to return if the store reopens April 4.

Bryan Kaeser lives with his wife in southwest Dallas County, and in the Duncanville school district. He said, “I love living in this tight-knit community, and wanted to do what I could for our neighbors. I also wanted to keep my business going and my employees working. Since I’m in the business of feeding people, that’s what I’ve done—trying some new ways to do this like adding grocery items.”

Kaeser decided to start feeding Duncanville ISD students during spring break, March 15 or 16, after learning they might not return to school anytime soon. Mudhook had $6 burger and fries special for Wednesday nights and used that special as a free offer for students. They have now served hundreds of the $6 burger baskets to local students. The feed a student project is now assisted by community fundraising, with donations made through mudhookbar.com.

Kaeser Donates Vinyl Gloves

Bryan Kaeser of Mudhook, is a Duncanville, Texas, Hometown Hero

Photo: Bryan Kaeser Facebook

On March 24, Kaeser also donated 2,000 vinyl gloves to the Duncanville Police Department. Officer Douglas Sisk of DPD Community Affairs took delivery of the gloves.

Kaeser said, “I’m not scared to do what I need to do to keep people employed, keep people healthy or keep people fed. I know I have an endless amount of hustle and won’t be beaten down or outworked. I‘m determined to do all of the above to achieve my definition of success.”

“I realize buying in bulk isn’t what most people need, but if you take 5 lbs. of rice, go drop off some for your neighbor. We’re all in this together. Although it’s a tragedy, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to bring out the American spirit of helping our neighbors. It’s great to see people out playing with their kids, or walking more. Tristan (bartender) and I had some downtime yesterday, and joined in a pick-up basketball game with some local kids. With our gloves on,” he added.