Skip navigation
NRN Showdown

Burgerville returns to growth mode as it prepares for its 40th restaurant

The Pacific Northwest chain enjoys a cult following that it’s preparing to capitalize on


Long before most Americans even thought about local and seasonal products, there was Burgerville. The 60-year-old chain based in Vancouver, Wash., on the Oregon border, has long been focused on using and promoting the bounty of the region.

The 39-unit chain’s beef, from cattle that has never been treated with antibiotics or hormones, comes from the Pacific Northwest, as does much of its produce, and even its buns, which are not only made by local bakeries, but using local grains.

Seasonal specials use local asparagus in the spring and marionberries in the summer. Its Walla Walla onion rings draw crowds from as far away as Idaho when they’re in season, according to CEO Ed Casey, who joined the brand two years after a lifelong career in the foodservice industry.

Casey said previous management was more focused with improving sustainability and personnel, but he has worked on introducing new items — recent limited-time offers included a Holiday Piquant Cheeseburger with local cheese and horseradish, as well as rosemary sea salt fries using local rosemary, salt and potatoes, and a cocoa peppermint shake using local syrup — as well as bringing back popular favorites such as sweet potato fries.

He also has undertaken operational adjustments to improve throughput, which he said has contributed to a 30% increase in sales over the past year.

Although one of Burgerville’s primary focuses is on the quality of its ingredients, it’s not marketed as a better burger or fast-casual chain. It’s squarely in the quick-service segment, albeit on the higher end, with average per-person checks of around $8.

Casey said he likes it that way.

“The fast food segment is kind of reborn, but you’ve got to have a particular kind of fast food. The term I’m hearing bandied around is ‘premium fast food,’” he said, with concepts such as Starbird, the fried chicken sandwich chain in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as longstanding favorites such as In-n-Out Burger and Chick-fil-A.

“I see Burgerville right in the heart of that,” he said.

The chain has a pretty tight footprint, operating in a band between Centralia, Wash., and Albany, Ore., and Casey plans to keep it in those two states for a while yet.

“There’s so much opportunity in just the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “we could get to 100 units before we’ve got to leave the two states, really.”

The chain last opened a new restaurant in 2017, but Casey is changing that. A lease has been signed for restaurant number 40, and another 10 or so are in the works, he said.

All of the restaurants are company-owned.

Casey said he expects Burgerville to have a much bigger footprint in the coming years.

“You look forward five or 10 years and talk about brands that went from local to major regional and then beyond, this is certainly going to be one of those companies,” he said.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Be sure to vote for your favorite chain on our LinkedIn or Instagram pages. The winner will be announced the week of Feb. 19.

See more from the Burger Showdown:

Wayback Burgers

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Next Level Burger

Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes

Smalls Sliders

Savvy Sliders

Hat Creek Burger Co.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.