The Best Burger in Town

NFA Burger draws a line of customers from both near and far to the Dunwoody, Georgia, Chevron station.

The Best Burger in Town

June 2024   minute read

By: Al Hebert

There’s a gas station hamburger in Dunwoody, Georgia, that is getting a lot of attention. From regional media coverage to features in national magazines like Southern Living and Food and Wine magazine—which dubbed it the best burger in the state—NFA Burger is sizzlin’ in the spotlight.

Owner Billy Kramer’s story is inspirational. After growing tired and burnt out from his career in advertising, he started wondering if he could create a great version of a classic food everyone loves—a burger.

“It started out as stress relief for work … kind of a game in my head … could I make a perfect burger?” he said. “If I could make the perfect burger for my family, could I do it again for my friends? If I owned my own restaurant, could I do it over and over everyday? Just how high of a bar could I leap over?”

With that in mind, Kramer started watching videos, reading articles, buying cook books and “speaking with any cook or chef that would let me in their kitchen,” he said. “Every time I made a new batch of seasoning, I called my friends and they sprinted over for another taste test. One day, my friend Jeff told me that his wife, Caryn, would only eat my burger. That was a huge compliment.”

Kramer finally thought he was on to something. He started looking for restaurants where he could do pop up events for his burger, doing the first one in the spring of 2018.

“Pretty soon, I was building a solid reputation in Atlanta,” he said.

From Pop-Up to Permanent

Oftentimes, the pairing of great food and gas stations is just meant to be.

“I reached out to Salim Thobani, the owner of a Chevron gas station near my house,” said Kramer. Within a few days, Thobani’s son visited one of Kramer’s pop ups, and “wound up telling his dad it was one of the best burgers he had ever had. Within three months, Thobani offered me the cafe space in his Dunwoody Chevron. He gave a guy with no restaurant experience a kitchen,” he recalled.

And thus, NFA Burger was born. What does NFA stand for? Not Fooling Around, and Kramer means it. He opened NFA on December 3, 2019, and on the store’s first day he made three burgers. By day five, he had a line around the store.

My motto is everything in every bite.”

“It’s been a good partnership. Thobani is not your typical landlord. When Covid hit on March 14, 2020, he called and said ‘Billy, do whatever you need to do.’ We only closed for three hours,” Kramer said.

The Chevron c-store and NFA naturally complement each other. The c-store sells drinks and it benefits from the long line of customers around the store.

And for Kramer, every customer is special … and no one is. Everyone has to wait their turn in line.

“We had a great traffic day this past Saturday. The line was around the building, and my wife ran into the store and said … ‘so and so is in line, what do I do?’ and I said, ‘Tell them I said hello.’ Top chefs, hip artists, athletes and CEOs … it doesn’t matter to me.”

Building the Perfect Burger Bite

What makes NFA Burger the center of culinary attention?

The burger is painstakingly constructed. Kramer has a system and is meticulous about the assembly of Billy’s Classic, the burger that started it all and the restaurant’s staple menu item.

“My motto is everything in every bite. Why have a special sauce that takes four bites to find? If mustard makes your burger better, why hide it?” said Kramer. “Strips of bacon don’t cover the entire burger, so we used diced bacon. I want my customers to enjoy the last bite as much as the first.”

Down to a Science

The burger cooking method, too, is precise. It starts by smashing the burger with the proper technique. 

“It’s all about science. A properly executed smashed burger requires the grill to be over 350 degrees so that the Maillard reaction takes place. By smashing a ball of meat into the grill at the correct temperature with the proper technique, you will get the perfect sear with crispy edges…or [what’s called] meat lace,” Kramer explained.

Perfection With Room for Error

At NFA, Kramer would rather serve the perfect burger than have employees be too nervous to remake an item. “If they don’t think I’d eat it, they’re empowered to remake the burger,” he said. “If we send out an imperfect burger, the customer will tell all their friends it was a bad burger. We know that person is not coming back. We don’t know who they will tell and how many people then won’t come in. Simply put, I look at failure as a marketing expense—other restaurants look at it as a food cost.”

If someone on the line makes a mistake, NFA packages up the food and gives it away.

The staff also eats for free while working, so there’s “no reason to purposely screw up a burger like they might have had to do at their last job,” just to score a free meal, he said. “We don’t play games in my kitchen.”

You have to admire Kramer’s focus on quality. In the current fast food, quick delivery world, he’s slowed things down to ensure perfection.

“There are no shortcuts to smashing burgers. My goal is not to serve you the quickest burger I can. My goal is to serve you the best burger you’ll ever have, in the quickest way I can. The difference with what we do is I want you to have the best burger humanly possible,” said Kramer.

But the number one thing Kramer said makes his restaurant great is that he and his staff care. “The thing that makes us great is what makes every great restaurant great. When you enjoy a restaurant, it’s because the people who own it want you to enjoy it. We want people to have a perfect experience every time they eat there, and you have to care about the people who spend their money [on you].”

And success also comes down to having the right people with the right attitude. 

“Employees are a reflection of their leader. The reality is very few employers empower their employees to be perfect,” said Kramer. “If I hire people who care, the customers should have an exceptional outcome most of the time, if not every time.”

Kramer shared that “When people go out to eat, I want them to enjoy restaurants for who [the restaurants] are, not what customers want them to be. If you expect us to do something that’s in your head, you’re coming for the wrong reason. We’re not everything to everybody. Enjoy us for who we are. People say we’re nothing like Shake Shack, Culver’s or Freddy’s … good. Because they’re already there.”

Al Hebert

Al Hebert

Al Hebert is the Gas Station Gourmet, showcasing America’s hidden culinary treasures. Find him at

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