By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal
There’s something to be said about being an individual when it comes to starting your own business. This is true for Sonora alumni and growing restaurateur Joseph Mahon as he opened his second Burger Parlor restaurant this week.
Mahon knew what he wanted to do at a young age. While many of his family members were making their name in the world of running and track (his cousin Terrence went on to be an Olympic distance running coach), Joseph had other plans.
“I needed to carve my own path,” he explained. “That’s been my way my whole life. I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum.”
What Mahon wanted to do was to be a chef and own his own restaurant. He admits that he was a bit rambunctious while he was in junior high school at Our Lady of Guadalupe School. However, he would tell his mother not to worry, he would own his own restaraunt some day.
The seeds of a budding chef were planted early in Mahon. His mother valued eating and cooking, so little Joseph took in those values too. His individual spirit in his early teens did cause him to get into trouble, but he used his punishment to hone in on his future.
Mahon explained that he was “grounded a lot,” but that allowed him to watch “Great Chefs Great Cities” on PBS. “It was an amazing program,” he said.
He never wavered in his desire to cook. His grandmother gave him her 400 cookbooks so he could continue to develop his passion for cooking.
While his cousins and older brother attended La Habra High School, Joseph, always the individual, spent his freshman year at Servite, and then transferred to Sonora for his high school education.
He started cooking professionally at 16. After a quick stint at a tea house, he was hired to cook at Mulberry Street Restaurant in Downtown Fullerton where he worked for two years.
“I saved up my paychecks,” Mahon explained. “I wanted my parents to see that I was serious about going to the Culinary Arts Institute of America.”
So, finally, at 19, he headed to the school in New York to take the next step in fulfilling his dream.
I worked for some of the most well known restaurants in New York, Paris and London. He was able to work with and learn from some of the most respected chefs including Daniel Boulud, Andrew Carmellini and Gordon Ramsay.
After spending six years in New York, it was time that the La Habra native headed back to the West Coast.
Mahon spent five years working in LA fine dining scene. It was then he met his wife and he decided to make the move to owning his own restaurant.
After what he explains as a “good learning experience” with his first restaurant concept, The Early Bird, he moved to burgers.
“I just wanted to improve on the existing burger place that I grew up with,” he explained.
What started up as a pop-up restaurant idea in 2011 became the brick and mortar restaurant Burger Parlor today.
When we started off the concept, I knew what I wanted,” the business owner explained. “Small businesses often open without a plan. I had a plan, a guide and an agenda of how I wanted it to feel and be.”
Now with the opening of his second restaurant, Mahon cites the staff as the reason for Burger Parlor’s success.
“I like investing in my team,” he said with a smile. “I invest more in people, because our people are Burger Parlor.”
The married father of two never lost sight of his goal and made good on the promise he made to his parents when he was a teen.
He said he is happy that he can bring the skills he learned back to the communities that helped shape him.
“We want people who want to come to us for a consistent quality product.,” he said. “They need to eat somewhere, we just want people to eat with us.”
204 N. Harbor Blvd.
149 N. Glassell St.