Business & economy

Malheur County couple steps into ownership slot of Burger West

Kristin Sutton, co-owner of Burger West with her husband, Aaron prepares a batch of fries during a afternoon rush at Burger West in Ontario. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

ONTARIO – Aaron and Kristin Sutton lived in Florida when they realized they needed to make a change.

They didn’t have a bad life. In fact, the young couple was already successful. Aaron Sutton, 35, worked as a minor league coach for the Minnesota Twins baseball organization while Kristin was a teacher.

Yet something was missing, they said. They decided to return to their roots in the Ontario area. Kristin grew up in Ontario while Aaron is from Fruitland

“We’ve always wanted to get home. We’d moved four times in the last five years. This is where our families are from. This is who we are. With Covid we spent more time as a family and we realized life was short,” said Aaron.

After they arrived back in Malheur County in February they learned the Davis family planned to leave the restaurant business they owned – Burger West.

“We were fortunate enough to know the owners so we kind of had a little bit of an in,” said Aaron.

Kristin said the Davis family “trained us in every aspect” of the business, situated on Southwest Fourth Avenue.

The Suttons said they were already aware Burger West was more than just another drive-thru joint. Burger West opened in 1967 and quickly became a local go-to place with its signature ranch hand hamburger.

How big impact the locally renowned drive-thru made in the community was apparent the last day the Davis family owned it, said Kristin.

“There was a line wrapped around Red Apple and that showed how much the Davises meant to this community,” she said.

The Suttons took over the business two weeks ago and said they understand they are now the new caretakers of a 54-year legacy.

“We know we have big shoes to fill. This is really an icon. But we are excited to keep it stable for everyone here,” said Aaron.

The Suttons workday begins early. One of them goes down to the restaurant to meet vendors while the other gets their two boys, aged 5 and nine months, ready for daycare. The change from the baseball field and the classroom is a big one.

“Every day is a new learning experience for us. We are constantly learning. Every day is a new day and never the same,” said Aaron.

Kristin said they are both focused on providing a premium service and product.

“We want to serve the community and our family and make Ontario and the Treasure Valley a good place,” she said.

That type of attitude is crucial, he said.

“You look at it like that and you get motivated to get up early. It is exciting. We love what we do so far,” said Aaron.

One of the brightest spots for the two is to meet longtime customers when they pull up to get an order.

“It is amazing to see the support we have,” he said.

For now, Burger West is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only the drive-thru service is offered. Customers can also call in or just walk up and put in an order.

Both Suttons said they enjoy their new gig.

“If you love what you do you never work a day in your life. So, we are in a good spot,” said Aaron Sutton.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]


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