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Meet Yawapa and Dhana Lee of Chapps Burgers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yawapa and Dhana Lee.

In 1984, Dhana was working the night shift as a computer operator at a local manufacturing facility. Always looking for other opportunities to make a better life for him and his family, he and a college friend (Isaac Wan) decided to open up a small burger joint in downtown Arlington. The location was only open during the day and it gave him something to do before he went to his full-time job.

Wanting to serve something bigger and better than what others were doing, they started serving 1/2 lb. burgers … which was unheard of at a time when frozen, small patties were the norm.

His wife, Yawapa, continued to work as a Human Resource Manager at a local area business as Chapps opened up a new location in South Arlington and another location in Dallas. Isaac operated the one in Dallas and Dhana operated the one in South Arlington. At this time, they sold their original location in downtown Arlington so they could focus their efforts on these additional locations. After a couple of years, Isaac decided that he wanted to pursue other ventures. The restaurant business can be extremely rewarding, but is also extremely hard work. The location in Dallas closed and the partnership split on friendly terms as Dhana continued on his own.

Around the same time, the local manufacturing facility was downsizing their operations and began laying off a lot of their workforce.

Dhana used this unforeseen event as an opportunity to fully pursue his dream of owning a business and growing it into something he could pass on to the next generation.

Seeing the success of the business and how much additional help was needed, Yawapa decided to leave her corporate job and help expand Chapps into other cities. During this period, the number of locations grew as did the difficulty in managing them all. Luckily, they both come from large families, so family members soon joined Chapps to manage and operate different locations.

Today, Chapps has 7 area locations. As Dhana and Yawapa have taken a bit of a step back, the next generation has stepped in to help manage it and grow it. It really is a story about living the American Dream: You can arrive as an immigrant with very little and through hard work and perseverance, build a successful company.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No – definitely not smooth. The restaurant business has always been challenging with turnover, food costs, labor shortages, long hours, etc. Today’s climate makes it even more challenging as restaurants are having to manage their social media presence, implement and adapt to new technologies and deal with increasing food and labor costs.

In addition, being family-owned and operated also presents its own set of unique challenges. People have difference of opinions and do not always see eye-to-eye and we have to maintain a line to keep things from getting personal. At the same time, being a family, we have a lot of love for each other and a love of great food. Over the years, there have always been highs and lows but one thing that remains the same is our commitment to each other as family and to our customers to provide them great food.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Chapps Burgers story. Tell us more about the business.
Chapps Burgers specializes in custom, made-to-order burgers. All of our burgers are Nolan Ryan all-natural beef products. We fresh-cut our fries every morning in house and we wash and fresh cut all of our vegetables in house as well. All of our burgers are seasoned with our own Chapps special seasoning and our marinated grilled chicken breast is a Chapps house-marinade that you will not find anywhere else.

We are not your typical “chain” where there is someone sitting in a corporate ivory tower office somewhere making decisions based solely on numbers. Since we are family-owned and operated, we are involved in every aspect of this business, down to which take out containers we should be using. You will usually find an aunt, an uncle or a cousin in any of the locations at any given time.

We treat our customers as family. We have so many loyal, long-time customers that have grown up with us since the beginning … as they get older, their children are now bringing in their own children … so we have generations now coming to dine with us!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Someone once told me that luck is when preparation and opportunity meet. There are certainly things in our history that have gone in our favor … and other things that have not. But we don’t view that as being lucky or unlucky … we view that as life. The way we run our business is much the same way we live our lives: when things do not go as planned or as we anticipated, we may “grieve” for a little bit, but then we refocus our energy to figure out a way to change our course. More often than not, when we look back at challenging periods, it makes us truly appreciate the way that things turned out.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 2596 E. Arkansas Lane – Arlington, TX
    153 Southwest Plaza – Arlington, TX
    140 West FM 1382 – Cedar Hill, TX
    4146 South Carrier Parkway – Grand Prairie, TX
    2045 N. Hwy 360 – Grand Prairie, TX
    1004 Keller Pkwy – Keller, TX
    9101 Blvd. 26, #161 – North Richland Hills, TX
  • Website: www.chappsburgers.com
  • Phone: Grand Prairie: (817) 649-3000, (972) 263-6969
    Arlington:  (817) 460-2097, (817) 483-8008
    Cedar Hill: (972) 293-9959
    Keller:  (817) 431-3888
    North Richland Hills: (817) 281-8887
  • Email: info@chappsburgers.com
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chappsburgers/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChappsHamburgerCafe
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChappsCafe

Image Credit:
Chapps Burgers

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Sypien

    November 3, 2017 at 1:21 am

    It’s our neighborhood “Go To” burger place we go to when we need a great hamburger and fries!

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