"I think Westport needed a place where you could get a good deal on a burger. The idea is, you're going to get a really great burger and beer at a price that is right in the middle for a regular guy," Ptacek says.
The decor at Green Room Burgers & Beer is accordingly low-key with simple wooden tables in the dining room and a granite bar top that runs the length of the front room. But his approach to the business is anything but casual. Ptacek, 27, is a fourth-generation entrepreneur with a degree in economics from Kansas State University. His father and mother, Tom and Pam Ptacek, have run the adjacent Westport Coffee House since 1996. (The entrance to the burger shop is in the side parking lot.) The downstairs stage at the Westport Coffee House regularly hosts community theater and improvisational comedy performances — the inspiration for the Green Room name.
Once he had the restaurant concept, Ptacek hired a lawyer to help him secure a beer and wine license last June, and he began working on transforming the space, which was previously used for video-game storage, the actual green room for the theater, and as a church. The restaurant has seating for 50 people and is licensed for a patio if he wants to add one on at a later date.
"That's our talking-point burger. You'll go, oh my God, that's too much or oh my God, I've got to try that," Ptacek says.
Ptacek has his hand in everything by design. He loves hand-cutting the fries, which are double-fried (Ptacek compares them with the fries at Five Guys), and is proud of the hummus he makes daily. There are two kinds: One is spicy, courtesy of a house-made adobo sauce, and the other is made with cilantro for a balance of sweet and heat.
"A lot of things we do here are from scratch, and I believe that people can taste the difference. Hopefully people will try it and come back," Ptacek says.
Ptacek originally considered opening a microbrewery, which is why the beer selection (Nebraska Cardinal Pale Ale, Left Hand Milk Stout, Ska Modus Hoperandi, Cathedral Square Belgian Abbey Ale) is a cut above the standard beer bar. North Coast Brewing's Blue Room Pale Ale — sales benefit the American Jazz Museum — is also on tap. He's focusing on local brews, aiming to keep all of the beers under $5 (Tank 7 on tap included). Long term, Ptacek is hoping to secure a microbrewery license, so he can bring his homebrewing talents to the restaurant.
Green Room Burgers & Beer is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Ptacek intends to serve food until closing and advertise specials regularly on Facebook. There's currently a deal on Mondays and Tuesdays, where your third burger is free or you get an order of large fries with the purchase of two burgers. You can also call in an order to 816-216-7682.