Western States – Good Times Burger

Spotted this while looking for a mail box in the far north exurbs of Denver. Hadn’t heard of it, parking lot was pretty full, thought I would give it a try.

Walked in and was surprised to see a co-branded menu board, “Good Times Burger” and “Taco Johns.” There had been no Taco Johns signage on the entrance that I came in. I figured it was TJ’s trying to expand their offerings, ala the co-branding efforts of YUM! (co-located Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc)….but have subsequently found out that this effort comes from two entirely non-related companies, Taco John’s is based in Cheyenne, and Good Times is a Colorado burger operation that has been around awhile.

My Taco John’s story: it all started at a 5000 watt radio station in…. I was a time schlepper, but we went by the lofty title of “Account Executive”. I enjoyed working with new businesses, and I would cruise the building permits in the newspaper and drive around looking for signs of construction or remodeling to get the jump on my competition.

I noticed a small foundation being laid on a busy street one day, and stopped to see what was up. The man giving orders was Tim, from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and he had just bought the local Taco John’s franchise. We hit it off, and he invited me to be there the restaurant “would arrive and be installed.” WHAT? Early on, Taco John’s units came on the back of a truck, a pre-fab restaurant, completely furnished inside and out, ready to go once placed on foundation and connected to the utilities. This amazed me. The big day came, and I was there to observe. Within 10 hours of the truck arriving, Tim was making tacos. I liked their “Taco Burger” of course, taco fixings on a hamburger bun. Tim was a nice guy. I did a lot of business with him, both as ad guy, and diner.

Taco John’s today are (mostly) free standing buildings, with full service fast food and interior seating. This combo unit in Denver was very attractive, and the taco side has added a salsa bar like El Pollo Loco, or Taco Cabana.

I ordered the Bacon and Blue Burger combo, which came with fries and “Wild Dippin’ Sauce.” No idea what was in that sauce, some other thousand island concoction, with a little bite. The burger had a few onion rings on top, so I got to try those as well, but they were fairly limp, heat lamp or some other reason. The blue cheese topping was sauce (salad dressing) and had a few small chunks of cheese in it. The bacon and other toppings were fresh.

The patty was hand-formed, and when I say that, I mean irregular shaped and not uniform, but plant production machines can replicate that these days.

Stripping away the toppings revealed a burger patty in distress, broken, with a hole in it, I had a hard time imaging how that occurred, other than being at the end of a cook’s thumb.  An afterthought:  the grind could possibly be so lean, so devoid of fat, that the patties don’t hold together well.

No matter. It’s a good enough burger, attractive, and tasty was well. I don’t know how wide-spread this dual brand concept will become for the two companies, I would think it is an administrative nightmare. As I am not often in that part of the country, I doubt I will be back, but I am glad I got to check them out.

The fries were fresh cut, hot and crispy.   A poster on the wall said “This morning, our fries were potatos.”

Good Times also offers frozen custard, so the entire approach is reminiscent of Culvers.  I can think of few better chains that Culvers to try and emulate.   There’s a location map of Good Times here, and no, Jimmy JJ Walker was not around.

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Good Times Burgers/Frozn Cstrd on Urbanspoon

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