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When First Burger opened in 2010 in downtown Albany, Jason Devrouax was in the kitchen cooking all-American meals and dreaming of operating his own restaurant.

“I wasn’t sure if it would ever actually happen,” he said.

But today, Devrouax and his longtime girlfriend, Tammy Maudlin-Miller, own and operate First Burger.

The couple purchased the business in October. They’ve made minor changes, but the original spirit of First Burger remains at the forefront.

“It’s real food served fresh with the most local ingredients. It’s stuff I would feed my own children,” Maudlin-Miller said.

While Maudlin-Miller takes care of business-related tasks, Devrouax handles most of the duties in the kitchen.

He said he’s tried to be creative with daily specials such as a jalapeno popper burger or guacamole-stuffed onion rings, and even condiments — Calapooia Brewing Co. root beer barbecue sauce, anyone?

One of the most notable changes to the restaurant is the addition of a quarter-pound burger option. Maudlin-Miller said that many patrons found the third-pound burgers at First Burger too large for one sitting, especially since they come with a generous helping of French fries.

“A lot of people were saying it was too much,” Maudlin-Miller added.

The third-pound patties are still on the menu for those with a ravenous appetite, however.

The business also has switched from full service to counter service.

Devrouax said that other chefs in the area inspired him to purchase First Burger.

“I’ve worked for a lot of great guys. For the last 10 years, I’ve been working for the best chefs in the area,” he added.

Sybaris owner Matt Bennett, who created First Burger, still serves as a mentor, as do other restaurant owners, Devrouax said.

Devrouax was attending culinary classes at Linn-Benton Community College when he began work for Bennett at Clemenza’s, where he met Maudlin-Miller.

Their four daughters now help out at First Burger.

“It truly is a family business,” Maudlin-Miller said.

Devrouax said the LBCC courses “absolutely” prepared him for working in a restaurant.

With the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum and other improvements downtown, Devrouax said it was a good time to purchase a business in the district.

“I love being back down on First Avenue and being with all my friends I was working with a few years ago,” Devrouax said. “It’s real exciting to be part of it again.”

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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Business Reporter