Tom Dekle has loved Milo’s burgers for as long as he’s known Vestavia streets. He grew up with both, raised his kids in Vestavia, and now his grandkids are “Milo’s fanatics” too. “The sauce is the difference,” he says of a classic Milo’s burger that was born close to 75 years ago here in Birmingham. “There’s no substitute for it.” We chatted with him to learn more about the restaurant’s new Cahaba Heights location that’s scheduled to open in August and what else is new with the brand.
Why Cahaba Heights?
We had a lot of customers who asked us to come to the community. In fact, it was the most requested area in Birmingham. We know this property’s developer, Will Akin, and when he bought the Rite Aid building, we worked with him on the space. It’s a great location at Green Valley and Crosshaven. We have a great store in Inverness and a great one in Vestavia, and we felt like this is a great fit since it’s far to travel to those other stores.
What will be unique about this new location?
This store will feature a more upgraded look designed by Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds Architecture and Eric Hendon. We have some high-top community tables and a brighter look with our classic red colors. We’ll have our traditional drive-through lane, and we’ll have an additional spot you can pull up to with a speaker for online orders and third party delivery pickup.
The Milo’s burger and tea are iconic, but what else do you recommend on your menu?
Our chicken tenders and our crispy chicken sandwich are extremely popular. Instead of using frozen ones, we figured out how to marinate them for 24-48 hours and hand bread them. We have a grilled chicken sandwich too. With our chicken offerings, we added a Double O sauce, a combination of ranch and Milo’s sauce, and a boom boom sauce with a little heat. We also added a sauce bar inside.
You bottled Milo’s sauce for the first time this spring. How did that come to be?
We have never bottled the sauce because it’s a refrigerated product. When COVID came around, we were trying to figure out ways to do something different, and we decided to sell the sauce and contribute part of the proceeds to a charity that needs help in this time. We tested it to see if the customer would pay $5, and the $2 between cost and selling price we gave back to our community. For the first week we tried it on our food truck and sold out. It had a contagious buzz, so we bought 6,500 empty bottles and put them in our stores. The stores would fill the bottles, and we sold all 6,500 bottles in a week. During the pandemic, there were two months where we were able to offer more than 6,000 meals to children in all of our markets. Our goal is to sell the sauce again and to partner with No Kid Hungry, a national group with a local presence.
What’s something that Milo’s offers that people might now know about?
Our mobile app usage has tripled in the past year. There’s a skip-the-line component, and it will save your order history. It’s about convenience. You can get exclusive offers the public does not have, and soon you’ll be able to earn points and use points.