EAST MANATEE -- If customers have learned anything in the first year of operation of Full Belly Stuffed Burgers, it might simply be this: lean forward.
And bring a sense of fun.
That helps with eating such juicy and adventurous burgers as The Matty Mat, complete with maple bacon and peanut butter.
Then extra-hungry customers might follow that up with a dessert, say the Full Belvis, an homage to Elvis Presley. It's a deep-fried triple layer peanut butter and jelly banana sandwich with raspberry sauce and ice cream, dusted with powdered sugar.
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The family owned and operated Full Belly Stuffed Burgers opened at 8742 State Road 70 E., in Ranch Lake Plaza, one year ago, just a few days before the shopping center's anchor, a Sweetbay Supermarket, unexpectedly closed.
Family members say they will celebrate Full Belly's first year with a party 1-6 p.m. Sunday with live music, prize giveaways and games for children.
"Full Belly Founders," the
patrons who have eaten "an insurmountable amount of burgers," will be honored, Founders are customers who have tried eight different kinds of burgers on the menu.
Also to be honored is the secret recipe winner whose stuffed burger recipe was chosen as Full Belly's anniversary burger special.
Proceeds from a raffle will go to nonprofit Selah Freedom to bring light to the problem of modern-day slavery and sexual exploitation.
Operating the business are brothers Shane Keinz and Matt Holt, former Bayshore High School students, and their mother, Pinki Goolsby.
Keinz is credited as the talent behind the recipes, as well as the decor of the restaurant.
The family developed a following for its stuffed burgers at Sarasota Farmers Market, Get Down Downtown in Bradenton and Music on Main at Lakewood Ranch, before opening the restaurant.
"Anything you would normally put on top of a burger, we put inside," said Matt Holt. "We have a couple of guys who have eaten three burgers at one sitting, We have one that comes in and has two burgers at a time."
Bob Panzica has been a Full Belly regular for years, starting with buying them at the Sarasota Farmers Market.
"I've been through the card twice," Panzica says of the eight-burger lineup at Full Belly. "Italian is my favorite, but with any of them you get all the flavors."
Larry Davison is another regular. "The food and the service are awesome. They are great people," he said.
Davison has had the Full Belvis, too, but shares it with three others.
Each month, Full Belly features a speciality burger selected from customer recommendations.
"People will come in and ask what's the burger of the month," Holt said.
The family knew that they had a great burger, and added to that a huge selection of beers.
They also wanted to pass along to customers the sense of fun and the enjoyment the family has in making the burgers and working together in the restaurant.
"I have been cooking since I was a kid," says Keinz, adding that rather than watching cartoons, he would watch cooking shows.
Prices range from $6 for Belly Teasers -- appetizers -- to the stuffed burgers that sell from $6 to $7.
Full Belly is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.