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This Utah burger joint is thriving after the pandemic

Posted at 10:22 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 12:22:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY — This is national small business week and these mom and pop shops are responsible for employing nearly 32 million people in the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic devastated thousands of these operations. But one Utah small business not only survived, but it's also now thriving.

JCW’s, the Burger Boys is a small, local chain of restaurants that has been serving Utah customers now for nearly 25 years thanks to the teamwork of siblings Clay and Chris Williams.

“We opened in 1998 and basically we flip burgers," said Chris Williams.

“It’s been a helluva ride for sure," said Clay Williams.

Starting with one restaurant in American Fork, a converted Hardee’s, JCW‘s now has five locations in Utah and Salt Lake County. Something that seemed impossible once the pandemic took hold in March, 2020.

“We saw our sales drop 50% and I was panicked," said Chris. "I thought that I was going to go broke. More importantly, I thought I was going to unemploy about 240 people. So it was extremely stressful.“

So the siblings regrouped and refocused their efforts on aspects of the burger business they never really explored.

“When the dining room was closed we focused on the drive-through. We had online ordering. We developed DoorDash, GrubHub, and just really developed our to-go business," said Clay. "And it really helped us streamline everything and I think it’s made us stronger as far as business-wise too.”

Their bank also offered to suspend payments for six months to ease financial stress. Chris said thanks to Alta Bank they never missed a payment.
He also says several customers bought gift cards that they weren’t going to spend immediately, providing much-needed cash flow.

“It takes a whole village! We call it the circle. If all of us support each other in the circle we do well," Chris said. "And I really believe in that.”

“Just tried to Focus on taking care of the business every day and not try to look at the whole picture because if you look at the whole picture overall, you just kind of feel overwhelmed you know?" said Clay. "You just try to get through it.”

Chris Williams says one of the best and most rewarding elements of coming through COVID is being able to maintain his workforce, many of whom have been with him for 10 and in some cases 20 years.