Steak ‘n Shake employees greeted every person that walked in the door Friday afternoon.
“Hi. Welcome to Steak ‘n Shake,” the crew would say in unison.
Most that crowded the tiled room were there for the restaurant’s ribbon cutting, held three weeks after it officially opened its doors to Midlothian patrons.
Victron Energy, Inc., a locally owned and operated fuel distributor, owns many properties across the county including the storefront Steak ‘n Shake now occupies.
People filtered in and out for a burger as Midlothian Chamber of Commerce members waited to cut the ribbon to the areas latest fast-food restaurant, but there was a surprise in store for Midlothian ISD officials in attendance.
Victron president Walid Alameddine said the company prides itself on being local, which is why the company donated $33,000 to Midlothian ISD.
"You guys do a great job and you educate the future of our kids," said Alameddine as he handed a check to Midlothian superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter.
Ledbetter said he knew they were receiving a donation, but he had no idea the scope Victron had in mind — and $33,000 was well beyond what he anticipated.
"I greatly appreciate their support and what they do," he noted. "We can't thank you enough."
Keeping the company’s money local is important, Alameddine said.
"We're not from Tulsa, Oklahoma. We're not from Arkansas. We're not from all these places,” he added. “We're from here."
The company began as a single convenience store before growing into the multi-brand fuel distributor it is today. The business is headquartered in Waxahachie and offers fuel brands including Exxon Mobil, Shell and Valero to name a few. It is one of the largest Shell distributors in Texas and one of the largest Exxon distributors in the United States.
Victron goes beyond fuel distribution and owns several properties which brought the officials to the ribbon-cutting festivities.
Alameddine noted that Midlothian has a special place in his heart because he is a resident there and has been for many years.
Chamber president Laura Terhune said Midlothian should support the company because of the economic impact they have on the area. Her first example sat next to Ledbetter in the form of a large cardboard check.
“They are investing locally,” she added. “They've got local jobs."
The company exemplifies what it means to grow the economy, Terhune noted.
Arretha Hightower is proud to serve as the local Steak 'n Shake store manager.
Hightower said she prides herself on the character of her employees and she wants patrons to feel welcome. She used to work at Jack in the Box before switching over to Steak ‘n Shake.
Since making the switch six years ago, she has worked at several locations including one in Arlington.
"I believe I'm going to stay here," she added. She said she prefers the quiet pace of the Midlothian location to the others she has served and plans on moving to the area.
The burgers at Steak ‘n Shake are high quality, Hightower said. She recommends everyone in the are try the home-style burgers and thin french fries.
"It's like a burger you cook at home," she added. “It’s a good homemade burger to me."
Hightower said she expected Midlothian to be a quiet little town, but she was surprised to find a lot is happening in the city.
"It’s a great place to work. I'm very excited,” she noted.” I'm looking forward to working here."
Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty