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‘One Big Bundled Family’: The success behind Kelowna’s Burger Baron

The Burger Baron team is a family of 11, and the customers are an extension of that family
The crew at Kelowna’s Burger Baron. From left to right: Owner Karrin Morris, staff members Fay Harley and Pamela Butcher, manager Lucas Findlay and staff member Amandip Bassi. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)

Every Monday for 16 years, Flore Langeslag would make a trip to Burger Baron Kelowna to indulge in the burger joint’s iconic mushroom swiss burger.

The 78-year-old got her first taste of Burger Baron in 1970 at the Lethbridge, Alta., joint — one of the restaurant’s original locations.

“Our office, at 12 p.m., we would line up. All about 40 employees,” said Langeslag.

When she moved to Kelowna 28 years ago, she was surprised to discover that the town was home to a Burger Baron — the only one in the province at the time. However, for the last four years, Langeslag lived in Abbotsford and was forced to live without the quench that comes with every bite of a juicy Burger Baron burger.

“We just moved back from Abbotsford four weeks ago. Then I said to my husband, let’s go to Baron Burger,” she said.

Not only is she happy to be reunited with the simplicity, quantity, textures and prices of the burger shop’s meals, but she said that she’s excited to be back in the restaurant’s retro, cozy and homey environment.

“It reminds me of my younger days. I feel like I’m 30 years old,” she said. “This is my favourite fast-food restaurant. This is my favourite.”

READ MORE: The Baron is back, and it’s booming

Langeslag belongs to just one of the many generations of people in Kelowna who have fallen in love with the establishment since it became a staple in town when it opened more than 60 years ago.

“In the beginning, you really felt like you had to live up to it,” said Karrin Morris, who took over ownership of Kelowna’s Burger Baron five years ago.

“People have high expectations. But now that we’ve stabilized, it makes it even more fun to work knowing how people feel about this place.”

She added that the fast-food restaurant, located at 140 Rutland Rd. N, is more than just a place that sells burgers, fries, donairs, milkshakes and everything in between — the Burger Baron team is a family of 11, and the customers are an extension of that family.

“We have such a community here. Everybody feels like they’re part owner and part of the Burger Baron. That’s what makes it exciting,” she said. “They’ve been here longer than me — longer than all of us … They feel like they’re part of the owner or the success of the Burger Baron.”

Fay Harley has been working at the Kelowna location since 1999, and she said she plans on staying with the restaurant until retirement.

“I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants, and this one makes you feel good. When you come in, it’s up and it’s happy. Hearing staff laugh in the back, you know it’s a good place,” she said. “We’ll dance and tell jokes. It’s a real family restaurant.”

Harley’s colleague, Pamela Butcher, has worked at the restaurant for five years, and she echoed both Morris’s and Harley’s sentiments.

“To feel everyone and have a family, it’s good to have that same environment when you go to work. It’s cool that we’re one big bundled family,” said Butcher.

Amandip Bassi’s first job since coming to Kelowna from India in 2016 was at Burger Baron, and she’s remained at the restaurant ever since.

“I know most of the customers by their name. It’s a really friendly thing,” said Bassi.

She added that she’s never once thought about quitting her job, with the reason being her co-workers and Morris, who she said treats her like a daughter.

“People will not want to go their work because they don’t like working there,” said Bassi. “But for me, they’re just my other family. I’m going there, have fun and then I come back home.”

Manager Lucas Findlay has been with the restaurant for just under seven years, and he said he couldn’t picture a life without Burger Baron.

“This is kinda my baby. I put so much time and effort into this place, and I don’t wanna go do anything else,” said Findlay.

He estimates that there are around 50 regulars who frequent the restaurant every week, while Butcher placed that number closer to 100.

“They like our food and they like our company. They like our opinions,” said Butcher. “I ask them how their day is going and they’re like, ‘Ugh.’ That’s why you’re here — you want a burger.”

Recently, the restaurant added Amanda’s Spicy Chicken Burger to their menu in honour of Morris’s late daughter Amanda. She worked at the restaurant for over a year before she died a year and a half ago.

“It’s everything. By doing that, it kind of continues her legacy,” said Morris. “She’s here. Everybody here knew her and loved her. She’s with us.”

Amanda was Findlay’s best friend, and Morris said the two were like brother and sister.

“She was part of this family too. It’s neat that she’s still here with us,” she said.

She added that the family-driven approach in the workspace has been key to the restaurant’s success.

“My success is my team. If they don’t love their job, it wouldn’t be a success, right?” she said. “It all comes from their heart, as well as mine. So I give back. I give back to my team. Without them, I wouldn’t be successful.”

READ MORE: Burgers are back in Rutland


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