VANCOUVER, Wash. — Burgerville will reopen five of its locations that had been temporarily closed, largely because of the effects of the pandemic.
The locally-owned fast food chain also expects to sign off on a union contract with some employees soon.
Like others in the food service industry, Vancouver-based Burgerville has faced difficulties during the last 20 months. The chain closed the dining rooms at all 40 of its restaurants, and by late summer five restaurants had closed completely: Lents and St. Johns in Portland, Tigard, Vancouver Heights and Vancouver Plaza.
Burgerville closed the Lents location in August, citing "deteriorating conditions in the surrounding area."
Two locations will reopen Monday, Nov. 22: St. Johns and Vancouver Plaza.
"We can't wait to welcome guests back. The other three locations, we're working on hiring in those areas and we hope to reopen them before the end of the year," said Hillary Barbour, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Burgerville.
St. John’s resident Ross Wilson is happy to hear about the reopening.
“Well, besides the obvious — the onion rings come once a year — but the burgers are quality food. And I really appreciate the owner of the place, what he's done for the area and community all these years,” said Wilson.
Burgerville has also been negotiating with workers who unionized, even pre-pandemic. Workers from five restaurants formed a union, demanding better wages and working conditions. After 51 negotiating sessions over the last three years, the union and the restaurant chain reached a deal. It is the first fast food union of its kind in the nation.
“We're excited because, for us, it means we can move forward as one team, and I think Burgerville is a better company for having gone through this,” said Barbour, who anticipates the company and union employees will ratify the agreement by the end of the year. She said all workers will benefit from it.
Along with continuing to fix supply chain issues, rehiring enough people to get back to normal is a challenge. Barbour said Burgerville, which was founded 60 years ago, is using social media and others ways to be more efficient.
“Nobody wants to fill out a paper application, wait two weeks, come back, have a conversation or an interview, wait another week, come back and do more paperwork. It's moving much, much faster.”