Breaking Away From Dat
Skip Murray, co-owner of Dat Dog has started anew with Dis & Dat, a Mid-City burger and dog joint.
Skip Murray is adamant that his new eating establishment, Dis & Dat, is not a restaurant.
“I hate restaurants,” he says, playfully. “And I say with that with no disrespect to anyone who owns one. It’s just a different and more unforgiving world than the burger and dog joint.”
Murray is a New Orleans native, but left for 30 years, returning back home in 2011. He has lived all over the globe, but most predominantly in London, where he began a successfully career slinging hot dogs to happy Londoners.
While in the U.K., Murray began to think differently about dining establishments and when he returned to New Orleans, he wanted his new business ventures to have the personal charm and fun vibe indicative of English pubs.
“I have to like what I’m doing, it has to be fun, we have to be personal and everybody and their brother is important to me,” Murray told Poppy Tooker on Louisiana Eats, back in September.
Soon after his return, Murray put those pub-inspired ideas into practice and co-opened what has become a New Orleans culinary staple – Dat Dog. But now, three years later, while still co-owner of Dat Dog (and its three locations) Murray has felt the need to break away and do something on his own. Dis is where Dis & Dat came into play.
The goal for Murray was to feature the burger as the flagship meal at his new joint and he’s following his well-worn motto, which is to keep it simple.
“The more moving parts you have, the more they can break down, and the more complicated things get,” he says. “It’s a simple concept, but it’s not always easy.”
Murray chose his 1,800 square-foot Banks Street location by chance, but the close proximity to the forthcoming LSU/VA Medical Complex can only mean a continued stream of new business coming in the door.
“I wanted to think outside of the box, and this place came up on Banks Street and it worked out great,” he says. “I didn’t really know Mid-City before Katrina, but I really like being a part of the community now. The fastest-growing neighborhood in New Orleans is the Bywater, and the second fastest-growing neighborhood is Mid-City.”
A successful business owner, Murray says he still finds opening a new business in New Orleans to be challenging.
“There’s no handbook for all the rules and regulations here,” he says. “You find them out as you go and it can be really difficult.”
Another big challenge for Murray is hiring the right staff. He prides himself on having staff members who are friendly and personable with guests.
“I want people who are friendly by nature, not just because I told them to be,” he says. “But I also like unique people because they add to the experience for customers.”
Murray and his friendly staff of 10 serve 8 oz. burgers topped with a secret glaze that Murray learned years ago. Other simple ingredients like, lettuce, tomato and real cheese adorn the burgers and each burger is safely contained within a soft, square-shaped onion bread bun. Dis & Dat is also serving up the classic dogs made so famous at Dat Dog – a nod to Murray’s success there.
While Murray openly embraces all the positive changes as New Orleans continues to evolve post-Katrina, he is still getting used to running a business in the social media-driven society we currently live in, and admits that until somewhat recently, he didn’t know what a blog was.
“There was a time when you’d open a business and maybe take out an ad and people would come and tell their friends about it. But in today’s world, there are people who are evaluating you and judging you immediately and they’re putting it out there where thousands of people may see it. You can only give away so many free dinners because you didn’t get it right on opening night,” he jokes.
Still he’s open to learning and rolling with the ever-changing times. He met his current social media director when she wrote a negative blog review of the place. Rather than feel defeated, Skip decided to hire her and pick her brain on how they could improve.
So far, New Orleans diners are impressed with Murray’s new burger and dog joint; Murray explains that they stay very busy. Being the best burger and dog guy however, isn’t the main goal for this food-loving New Orleanian.
“We are a city of food. We live to eat here. There are a lot of places to eat and some are better than others. My goal is to be the best I can be. Am I the best at what I do? I don’t know, I just want to do my best at what I personally know how to do.”
Dis & Dat is open 7 days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
2540 Banks St, New Orleans, LA 70119 – (504) 909-0458