Eventually, the couple started to get out into the community more.
"We were still so new in Naples and never had the time to meet anyone since we were working so much. We really started shaking hands with people in town that third year. We took really good care of people who came through, and that's what started changing things."
Brooks had upgraded the beef from Lindburgers' variety when he opened the place, but since then it wasn't a new menu or different food — word-of-mouth marketing became the secret sauce, so to speak, and the restaurant gradually started making money.
"Naples is full of elite restaurants, and you come in here and I'm like 'Hey! Have a seat! Make yourself at home!' and people are like, 'Wow, I love this,'" says Brooks.
If anyone ever had a complaint about anything, it never went unanswered, says Brooks. "I followed every social media site that was out there to respond to reviews. Every phone call and letter I responded to was like, 'Hey, you are the most important person in the world for us. Come back and let me fix this.' People actually came back and said 'We never had anyone invite us back, apologize, then cook for us,' and they became our advocates and they told people to come by. They told everyone about us, and it just started snowballing."
Still, it didn't occur to Brooks that all the right ingredients for a successful restaurant — great burgers, great design and great hospitality — would carry the eatery's notoriety beyond Naples.
"Right around the fourth year of us being around, in 2013, we got voted the top 10 local restaurants in Naples by TripAdvisor," Brooks says.
"I was like 'that's kinda cool' and didn't think a lot about it — but then all these tourists started showing up," he says. "Then, eventually, we climbed up to No. 1 locally, and in 2014 we were ranked No. 6 in the nation for best burger on TripAdvisor.
"We had no idea it was coming. Our restaurant got annihilated. Our business literally tripled."