Community force behind new Burgerville
Burgervilles Tigard location marks its first new restaurant in 11 years.
When the doors to the new Burgerville on Pacific Highway opened at 10 a.m. Monday morning, a line of customers stretched out the door and cars were already waiting patiently in the drive-through.
Burgerville, the popular Vancouver-based fast food chain already has one restaurant in Tigard on Southwest Carmen Drive near Interstate 5, but by the way people clamored inside to order Walla Walla onion rings and milkshakes, it was like they had been deprived of the restaurant for years.
I cant tell you how many years weve been getting requests to build a Burgerville in Tigard, said Jack Graves, the companys chief cultural officer.
A mural of Tigards annual balloon festival adorns one wall, as do photographs of local events.
A large interactive TV screen loops through photos from Instagram and Twitter from folks inside the restaurant.
We drive by it every day, said Heather Gonzalez. Its nice to have one closer, something that doesnt take quite as long to get to.
Carol Luckeroth of Tigard agreed, as she sipped on a strawberry milkshake.
They make great milkshakes, she said. They are always very satisfactory.
Community at forefront
Behind the new features, Burgerville CEO and President Jeff Harvey said the new restaurant is the test model for a whole host of new restaurants that will be coming over the next several years.
Harvey grew up on his grandparents dairy farm on Beef Bend Road and said the new 2,800-square-foot restaurant is more than just a place for a bite to eat. Harvey said he wants the restaurant to be a key part of the community.
We have always been committed to relationships with communities where we have restaurants. But, honestly, in the past, weve allowed that to fall into the background, he said.
With the new restaurant, Harvey said, they wanted to do things differently.
It wasnt about building a restaurant. It was about building a community.
We are really taking the relationship we build with this community much deeper. The 40 jobs added to this community means something to us, as much as it means something to you, Harvey said.
The first employees hired at the store were interns from Tigard High School.
That was a conscious decision, Harvey said. We wanted to engage the community before we did anything else.
Even the restaurants name Tigards Burgerville is meant to show the restaurant is more than just another business on Pacific Highway, said Graves. Its an integral part of town.
New phase of construction
Long before the restaurant was built, Burgerville employees were on hand promoting local events, such as the Tigard Festival of Balloons and the SparrowBowl, a fundraiser at Tigard High School for a 4-year-old boy with cancer.
We want to strengthen that relationship, Harvey said. We want to continue to sit down and talk with the community. Not just city government folks, but teachers at the schools or other organizations in town, and start to understand how we collectively can make an impact.
We get calls all the time from communities that want us to be in their towns, but it is less about available real estate or a new mall opening. It really is about which community really needs what we can bring, Harvey said. Where do they need jobs? Where do they need leverage? Where can we make that kind of impact?
It has been quite a gap between new restaurants for the popular chain. The last restaurant opened in 2001 in Vancouver. The lack of new restaurants was partially exacerbated by the down economy, Harvey said.
We were prepared to add new units much earlier than now, Harvey said, with the Tigard restaurant in the works three years ago. But when the economy turned, the funding for construction fell through.We could have scrambled and built it, but we pulled back further and asked what we wanted to do here, he said.
Burgerville has plans to open another new restaurant in 2013, but a site has not yet been selected. From there, the plan is to self-finance one or two new restaurants or remodels every year.
The Tigard Burgerville is a template for the next phase of Burgerville restaurants, Harvey said.
Whatever emerges here that works, we want to take to new communities, he said.
The new Tigard Burgerville is located at 12785 S.W. Pacific Highway.