Words & Deeds

Doing ‘good,’ new Boise chain opens 4th, 5th restaurants, aims for ... 50! You’re next, Utah.

When it comes to expansion, Boise-based Good Burger is doing good.

The local hamburger chain will open its fourth Treasure Valley location on Monday. It’s a 2,200-square-foot franchise store across from St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center on Eagle Road. Ten days later, another Good Burger will open in Layton, Utah — the first of three new locations debuting in Idaho’s neighboring state in the next six months.

The fast-growing, fast-food concept is heating up like a griddle. Founder and CEO Nicholas Jones, who teaches entrepreneurship classes at Northwest Nazarene University, opened the first Good Burger in 2018 at Boise Towne Square Mall.

By the way, English profs? Good Burger really is doing good.

It’s part of a social mission. Jones donated about $1,900, he says, to local nonprofits after a Free Fry Day in March. Once a month, he adds, Good Burger employees take sack lunches to homeless people near Rhodes Skate Park. Jones hopes to work with Interfaith Sanctuary, a homeless shelter, to increase the frequency of that handout to weekly.

Last Thanksgiving, Good Burger sent four employees to a Haitian refugee camp in the Dominican Republic. The company paid for a dentist and hygienist to travel along, too, and donate care. The restaurant’s employees gave out feminine hygiene kits, Jones says, along with shoes and computers. They also pounded nails repairing ramshackle homes.

Jones, 33, came up with the idea in 2013 while taking a social impact class at the University of Notre Dame.

“The term ‘Good Burger’ doesn’t necessarily mean the burger’s good,” he says. “I think our burgers are great.

“Good is the company. We do good. That’s what makes us good.”

As millennials know, Good Burger also was the name of a 1997 cult comedy movie. Remember this line? “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?” Nickelodeon-era nostalgia makes feasting on a Good Burger ($6.27) that much more fun. Look, kids! There’s even a Nick Jr. burger ($3.27) on the menu.

Jones, who founded then sold Chow Public Market and Eatery at the Boise Spectrum, sounds like he’s having a pretty good time himself — even if he’s crazy busy.

“We’re going gangbusters with it,” he says of Good Burger. “I’m not taking any money out of it. Any money I have coming in, I’m just sticking back into the company.”

“As long as you’re just doing little bets, then you’re not going to lose the farm,” he adds. “I mean, it looks big on the outside, but really on the inside, it’s just a bunch of sequential little steps that I’m taking.”

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Good Burger owner Nicholas Jones Photo by Jared Allen

Jones, who grew up in Boise, got an EdS in leadership and organizational development from NNU after returning from college at Notre Dame. He also opened a Bacon on a Stick mobile food operation. That’s when he began developing the Good Burger recipes that he’s not afraid to brag about.

Don’t get the guy started about his proprietary Good Sauce. Or those breaded french fries. “The best fries in Idaho,” he told the Statesman this spring while promoting Free Fry Day.

Good Burger makes it easy to find them.

After opening in the Boise Towne Square food court last year, Jones followed with a similarly modest location at Chow Public Market.

Then he super-sized. Jones opened a counter-order/table-service Good Burger at 1001 W. Main St. in Downtown Boise. It included The Drop, a self-pour beer bar with 20 taps. (Try it, beer nerds: You purchase brew by the ounce.)

The new Good Burger at 3143 E. Magic View Drive in Meridian will offer a similar 20-tap beer wall. Like the Downtown Boise location, it also features eight different beer-glass styles, stored in glass-chilling cases.

The Good Burger debuting next week in Layton Hills Mall in Utah won’t have a beer wall. (No beer at all. Shocking, right?) But it will be followed by another corporate-owned Good Burger in Salt Lake City late this year. By early 2020, a franchise location also is slated to appear in St. George, Utah.

Good Burger’s success can be attributed to solid, upscale fast-food. Feeling fancy? Upgrade your burger to American Kobe beef for $2. Or get it made on a local Gluten-Free Galaxy bun for an extra $2.50.

An equally important factor, Jones says, is Good Burger’s internal philosophy.

“As far as the good we do,” he says, “we focus first on making sure our employees are taken care of.

“We go above and beyond by taking care of transitional job costs that employees have, helping them get new tires on their car and much, much more. We value our employees and our team members at Good Burger.”

Employees receive a paid-for, one-week vacation each year. One person went to Mardis Gras in New Orleans, Jones says. Another took his family to Disneyland.

Happy employees make for happy customers.

“That’s what really makes the difference,” he says. “The gung-ho employees.”

If Jones has his way, there will be Good Burgers virtually everywhere within six years.

“My goal is to have 50 locations by 2026,” he says. “I’ve mapped them out, and figured if I play my cards right and I do everything well and avoid debt, then I should be able to have everything rolling ... .”

“I just do what I teach in my class,” he says. “I make little bets.”

If customers keep taking big bites, things should be good — for Jones, his staffers and the communities they affect in small but meaningful ways.

“You need profit to be successful,” he says. “But we also have a social initiative behind this. Whether it’s volunteering time in the community as a company together ... these are things that provide an enjoyment to employees and just make things happier.”

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he also has been a sportswriter, entertainment editor and features editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.
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