Words & Deeds

This iconic Boise Bench restaurant just reopened, and “nothing’s the same”

Customers dive into the new menu at Burger Time and Tiki Teriyaki on Orchard Street in Boise.
Customers dive into the new menu at Burger Time and Tiki Teriyaki on Orchard Street in Boise. mdeeds@idahostatesman.com

Aside from an “open” sign, Shawn Kimmell hasn’t gone out of his way to inform the world that Burger Time was reborn last week.

The Boise restaurant’s Facebook page? Purposely silent while staff is trained.

But when Kimmell ran an errand last Saturday, he returned to find the newly surfaced parking lot filled with 40 classic cars.

“We couldn’t stop ’em if we wanted,” says Kimmell, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Shelly, and son, Tod.

Hot rod rallies were a weekend tradition before Burger Time, 1273 S. Orchard St., unexpectedly closed in early 2018. But when hungry customers return to the drive-thru or walk-up window, they might be surprised — pleasantly — by how much has changed.

“Nothing’s the same,” Kimmell says.

It’s not just the new parking lot. There’s also new kitchen equipment. New LED lighting. The entire building was in disrepair, Kimmell says.

“Really, the only thing not new in there is the soft-serve machine,” he says.

You won’t be able to drool over a Big Block or Mustang Sally burger anymore. The menu has been jettisoned. Kimmell and his family also own Tiki Teriyaki food truck, so they’re merging the concepts.

Hamburgers are served on sweet roll buns. Cabbage is used instead of lettuce.

“Hamburgers and Hawaiian is kind of the catchphrase,” Kimmell says.

A new sign will be installed soon: Burger Time and Tiki Teriyaki.

You’ll still find thick milkshakes to go with a Tiki Burger ($3.79) or a loaded Burger Time Classic ($7.79), which includes two beef patties, grilled ham, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, onion and shredded cabbage. But you might want to go with a Tiki Mushroom Swiss ($6.79), two patties, Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and horseradish mayo.” (“It’s good,” gushed a man devouring one at a picnic table outside.)

Or grab something from the Tiki Teriyaki menu. The Pig Out ($6.89) is slow-roasted kalua pig piled on a bun with barbecue sauce, pickled onions and pineapple coconut coleslaw. Or grab a Tiki Rice Bowl for the kids.

Keeping the old menu wasn’t an option, Kimmell says, because Burger Time’s former owners essentially walked away. “We can’t continue their menu any more than we could go into the old Wendy’s and take on their menu,” he explains.

Kimmell knows it might take time for former regulars to accept these changes.

“It’s a big fear,” he admits. “But it’s also really good food. So they just need to open up their minds and expand from a burger to Hawaiian food from time to time.”

Kimmell is optimistic. After all, “Burger Time is an icon of the Boise Bench,” he says. The restaurant has been part of the community’s fabric since the 1960s. Past incarnations include Patty’s Burger Time, the Chow Now and the Beehive.

Burger Time and Tiki Teriyaki will hold a grand opening at a date to be determined, Kimmell says. Next month, he’s hoping to host a Halloween “Trunk or Treat” party with a live band. He also envisions bringing back Saturday swap meets on the 1 1/2-acre property.

“We want it to be fun,” Kimmell says. “Independent family drive-thrus are fading rapidly.”

Still, customers should keep bracing themselves for change.

Seared ahi tuna will be part of an expanded menu coming next spring, Kimmell says.

Seared ahi tuna? At Burger Time?

Times are a-changin’, Boise.

“They are,” Kimmell says, smiling. “They are.”

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Online: fb.com/burgertimeboise.

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