New location is 17th for Wilsonville resident Dan Gjurgevich

by:  LORI HALL - Dan Gjurgevich recently opened his 17th Carl's Jr. restaurant in Wilsonville at the corner of Southwest 95th Avenue and Boones Ferry Road.To say Dan Gjurgevich believes in his business is an understatement. He has worked for the same company for the last 37 years and doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.

Gjurgevich started working at a Carl’s Jr. in Rowland Heights, Calif., when he was 18. He worked the counter and made the fries.

With some drive and ambition, Gjurgevich worked his way up the ladder to regional vice president of the company and oversaw restaurants in San Bernardino and Orange counties.

“What you put into your job, you get out of it. … The opportunities were there if you worked hard for it,” Gjurgevich said. “I fell in love with the business.”

Love also found him at Carl’s Jr. as Gjurgevich also met his wife, Justine, there. The two have three grown children and have lived in Wilsonville for the last 16 years.

So, when the doors of newest Carl’s Jr. opened in Wilsonville recently, he couldn’t be more happy.

As Gjurgevich worked his way up the ranks, he got to know Carl’s Jr. founder Carl N. Karcher quite well, along with two of his sons, Carl and Joe.

After 20 years on the corporate side of the business, Carl and Joe Karcher approached Gjurgevich about moving into the franchise side. He agreed.

When Gjurgevich arrived to Oregon to partner with the Karchers, they had three restaurants in the Portland area. With the opening of the Wilsonville location they now boast 17 with 500 employees. Locations include Portland, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, McMinnville, Canby, Oregon City, Clackamas, Happy Valley and Gresham.

When asked about what his loves about his business, Gjurgevich cannot name just one thing.

“Our facility, our people, our food are unmatched,” he declared.

The variety of the menu, from scratch breakfast biscuits to the $6 burger to the burritos, is vast. But Gjurgevich’s favorite is the Western bacon cheeseburger – “a charbroiled all-beef patty, two strips of bacon, melted American cheese, two crispy onion rings and tangy BBQ sauce on a seeded bun.” And for dessert? Try a hand-scooped shake made from real ice cream.

Several of Gjurgevich’s locations also carry the Green Burrito items, which offers more appeal to families who can’t agree of what style of food they want to eat.

“It eliminates that veto vote,” he said.

When entering the Wilsonville Carl’s Jr., customers are quickly greeted by staff. Also, when at the restaurant, Gjurgevich is quick to pitch in and help clear tables, pick up and check on customers’ dining experiences.

“My biggest philosophy is living by example,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, it’s about the food.”

The fact that the newest location is in his own town is a source of pride for Gjurgevich. It took three attempts at securing a location in Wilsonville before the restaurant at the corner of 95th and Boones Ferry Road was landed.

“I’ve very excited about that. It really means a lot to me,” he said, adding that he enjoys seeing his friends and neighbors and people he knows in the community visiting the new location.

Gjurgevich said he enjoys living in Wilsonville because of the accessibility of services and the proximity of everything.

“You really don’t need to leave town for anything – everything is either walkable or you can ride a bike. It definitely has a great sense of community,” he said.

Gjurgevich said he also believes in giving back to the community. Over the years the company has sold pink stars in support of breast cancer research and currently campaigns for military veterans and their families through their Stars for Heroes, having raised millions.

“There’s also things we do locally,” Gjurgevich said. “I just want (residents) to know we’re here for them. We’re here to help give back.”

Carl’s Jr. is located at 25300 SW 95th Ave., Wilsonville. For more information, call 503-427-0080.

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