Is a burger just a burger? Are all hamburgers created equal? Husband and wife Chris and Nicole Carver didn’t think so—because every once in a while, often in unexpected places, they had tasted burgers that were truly great—juicer, tastier, more fulfilling to the body and the soul. That begged the question: “Why can’t we get the best burger in the world right here in Utah?” They then decided that they were going to make the answer be: “You can!”
Together they established Tonyburgers (they had a brother named Tony, and it sounded better than Chrisburgers or Nickburgers) and they put the first restaurant in Centerville. But they didn't stop there, now with five locations under their belt, Tonyburgers has definitely earned the title of April Small Business of the Month!
UMLF: Chris and Nicole, tell us about your backgrounds.
Chris and Nicole: We grew up in Bountiful Utah and have been married for twenty-four years and have four beautiful children. With our family, we live in Kaysville, Utah. Chris has a Bachelor's Degree from Utah State University in Software Engineering and Nicole has an Associates degree in Business Management and an Interior Design background. Neither of us had any experience in the restaurant industry when we decided to open a burger place in Centerville Utah.
UMLF: Tell us about Tonyburgers. What are are some menu items we HAVE to try?
Chris and Nicole: Tonyburgers was the result of lots of digging and researching different methods to come up with the BEST WAY to make burgers, fries, and shakes. We went to lots of different cities looking for that city’s best burger. Once we discovered what we thought was the best, we reproduced it in our own way. Each product on our menu has a special way it is prepared. Our burgers are made with a proprietary blend of sirloin, chuck, and brisket. Our fries are fresh cut and fried twice. Our shakes are made with real ice cream and hand whipped just like the diners of old.
UMLF: Yum! What made you want to start Tonyburgers? What inspired you?
Chris and Nicole: Desperation is the mother of invention! In 2008 Chris, along with many other people at the time, needed a job. He always wanted to own a burger place so he asked me about it. I thought he was crazy, but I agreed to give it a try. So we set out to find out how to create a restaurant!
UMLF: How do you feel like Tonyburgers is special compared to other burger joints in town?
Chris and Nicole: We are BIG into doing things the right way. Not the easy way or the fast way. When we started, people in the restaurant industry who were helping us get started told us “You can’t cut your own fries, they’ll be too much labor”, or “You can’t mix your own shakes, it’ll take too long”. We also heard that we’d never be able to find a local butcher who could mix the different cuts of beef for our burgers. They told us it would cost too much. Our answer was always “We’ll figure out a way to do it right, or we won’t do it”.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
Chris and Nicole: We almost had to close all our doors when we opened our second location in downtown SLC. It opened to hardly any traffic, and while our first location in Centerville was initially a big success, we had the first In-N-Out in Davis County open right down the street. This immediately cut our sales in half. So we had two restaurants and neither was making money. We overcame the problem with lots of hard work, and a few key people (most importantly our landlord of our Centerville location) who helped us figure some things out. Over the course of a couple years we gradually increased our sales and were able to become profitable again.
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
Chris and Nicole: When we were struggling, we took on some debt, and our credit scores took a hit. So when we were on solid ground and wanted to expand again, banks wouldn’t lend us any money. Fortunately, we found out about the UMLF and used it to help us partially fund the build out of a couple of our new locations. It was a GREAT resource for us!
Thanks for sitting down with us guys! Definitely check out Tonyburgers asap if you haven't yet at any of their five locations.
To stay in touch with Tonyburgers