Paul Abdo, a second-generation entrepreneur, shares his love of food with the Twin Cities.
On any given Sunday afternoon, you can find Edina resident Paul Abdo alongside his wife and three kids, carving out precious family time.
When the weather cooperates, Abdo, his wife, Kristen, and children, Lillie (14), Oliver (11) and Mac (8), love biking around the neighborhood. “We love to ride our bikes—or we’re on the sports field. And if not, we’re out eating. We’re always out eating,” Abdo says.
Edina has been their home since 2010. At one time, both Abdo’s and his wife’s grandparents lived in Edina, with one set of grandparents living on Cahill Lane and the other along Tracy Avenue. Family ties to the area, plus Edina’s reputation for good schools, and its central location within the Metro, made it an easy choice for the Abdo family.
Chowen Park, on the city’s northeast side, is one of the family’s favorite places. There, they enjoy engaging in family bets and throwing free throws at the basketball court. Later, the five of them can be seen heading down to 50th & France for a few scoops of cookies-and-cream ice cream in a waffle cone from Edina Creamery.
During the work week, Abdo often enjoys taking his laptop over to Jerry’s Foods on Vernon Avenue, where he can sit down, have a bite to eat and spend time with fellow Edina residents he’s gotten to know over the years.
But community and food aren’t just part of Abdo’s personal life—he’s made a career out of it. He’s the vice president of My Burger, a Minneapolis-based fast-casual burger chain. Established in 2004, it offers handmade, fresh, never-frozen hamburgers and old-fashioned malts and milkshakes. There are eight My Burger locations around the Metro, including three stores in Minneapolis, plus stores in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Richfield and St. Paul.
“When it comes to food, I love to eat,” Abdo says. “I love to take friends out to dinner. I love to cook.” He comes by it honestly, too. Abdo’s father’s side (Larry Abdo) is Lebanese; his great-grandfather moved to the U.S. from Lebanon in his early 20s. On his mother’s side (Caryl Abdo), the family is Russian-Jewish and Norwegian. With these cultural backgrounds, Abdo says everything revolves around food.
But entrepreneurship also runs in his blood. His parents have a rich history in the Twin Cities, which includes ties to the Minnesota State Fair. Their connection to the Great Minnesota Get-Together started nearly 50 years ago, when Larry worked in the ice business and had a small contract with the fair. Today, his three sons (Paul, John and Corey Abdo) run Gopher State Ice and provide ice to the entire fairgrounds during the 12-day run at the fair.
At one time, the Abdos also sold pita bread sandwiches at the fair. However, fairgoers’ desire for healthy foods eventually waned, and it was replaced by the consumption of rich, fatty, sugar-filled foods. Abdo’s father and sister, Mandy Abdo Sheahan, got to work on a few new ideas, but they kept circling back to bacon.
Finally, Sheahan said, “Why don’t we just do a quarter pound of bacon on a stick?” And that’s when Big Fat Bacon was born, a Minnesota State Fair food stand near the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street.
If you ask Abdo what it’s like growing up in an entrepreneurial family, where everyone rides the ups and downs of success, he’ll describe it to you in food terms. “One day, you’re eating steaks, the next day, you’re eating macaroni and cheese,” he says. And, as you probably could have guessed, both go well with bacon.
My Burger, 601 Marquette Ave. S., Mpls.; 612.436.0330; myburgerusa.com
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