We’ve seen a bunch of well-regarded and highly-anticipated national burger chains enter Houston recently – Five Guys, In ‘n’ Out, The Counter – but the one I’d love to see hit our shores is Burgerville.
As the 39-restaurant chain looks back on its first half-century in business, President and CEO Jeff Harvey is working to position Burgerville for its next 50 years.
The company’s focus on fresh, local food and social consciousness has helped it win a dedicated following. But restaurant experts warn the Vancouver-based company faces stiff competition this year from national burger-sellers moving into the Pacific Northwest.
“Some of the big boys are coming, and they’re coming in fast,” said Bill Hayden, a Portland-based restaurant adviser and owner of Northwest Consultants.
Burgerville’s success has grown from a willingness to experiment across the company and at different locations.
It tries out seasonal menu items throughout the year, and in 2009 it considered going upscale and experimented with the possibility by adding beer and wine to the menu at its Salmon Creek restaurant.
After each experiment, Burgerville’s leaders look at the results and decide how next to act.
Though alcohol options remain on tap in Salmon Creek, the company has not added beer and wine to the menu at other sites. Patrons haven’t asked for it, Harvey said.
“Our goal is to satisfy the wants and needs of our guests,” he said.
The evolution has led Burgerville officials to tie parent company The Holland’s “serve with love” mission to a sustainable philosophy, Harvey said. He, along with other key employees, have strengthened the company’s ties to food suppliers and buyers that recycle Burgerville’s used cooking oil into biodiesel. The company composts food wastes and offers a health insurance plan for all employees.
Every facility is powered by 100 percent wind energy purchase, Harvey said.
“There are ways we can run our business that help create a sustainable future for our community, rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul,” he said.
The food’s pretty good, too. They also have free WiFi and print nutrition information on your receipt. Burgerville is one of the places we like to patronize when we make our annual visit to my parents in Portland. I don’t know that a little regional chain like this is likely to ever expand our way, but I suppose all the other outfits that are busy going national started out small, so I figure there’s always hope. Regardless, I wish them the best for their next 50 years and beyond.