Shad Cupp tends to some mushrooms on the grill at The Ranch in Ontario as he talks about his family's ranch and burger business. (The Enterprise/SCOTTA CALLISTER)

ONTARIO – Shad Cupp says diners at his new The Ranch-Scottish Highland Burgers outlet are getting the healthiest beef there is.

He and his family opened the burger restaurant last month in the former Papa Murphy’s location on Southwest Fourth Avenue, catercorner from Ontario City Hall.

“People are really getting more concerned with how their food is being raised, where it’s being raised,” said Cupp.

He knows where The Ranch’s beef comes from because he raises it himself, at his Big Valley Ranch in Emmett, Idaho. And it isn’t the standard Angus, but rather Scottish Highland cattle. They are shaggy, stout and have long horns.

But it’s the cholesterol and fat content, lower than other beef animals, that draws him to the breed.

 “It’s the purest beef you can raise,” he said.

Cupp is relatively new to cattle ranching and to restaurant work.

He grew up in Boise, owned a masonry company for 15 years and then started a financial company, he said.

Cupp then decided to try “ranching a little bit on the side.”

He said he was struck by a video about commercial beef and “everything that goes into our processed meat. I wanted to do something different.”

After some research, he settled on Scottish Highland cattle, considered a hardy breed that will “thrive on stuff the other cows won’t eat.”

He started out selling meat at farmers markets, asking a premium price. He added in a food truck and then opened a drive-thru outlet in Boise.

Cupp said regular customers from Payette urged him to open an outlet closer to them. He challenged them to find a location, and that led to the former pizza store in Ontario at 425 S.W. Fourth Ave.

He said he elected to open in Ontario because most burgers here come from large chains. He said he serves a different market than the locally-owned Burger West, just down the street from him.

Although local employers are having a challenge filling jobs, Cupp said he been able to hire 15 people to help him with the Ontario restaurant.

“We believe in taking care of our people, making sure they have a working wage,” Cupp said.

Some of the crew – Sherri Lang, Sasha Drake, Art Keith and Tanner Brechbiel enjoy a chat at the counter before opening up Nov. 6, 2021. (The Enterprise/SCOTTA CALLISTER)

The menu features signature burger meals that range in price from $9 to $14. The meal includes the burger, fresh-fries from real potatoes and a drink.

The menu also offers a nod to the highlands: bangers and mash, a sausage and mashed potato combo that’s a favorite tradition in the British Isles.

There are also hints as to the family’s involvement, such as the Hoss – a half-pound burger topped with mushrooms. That’s named for Cupp’s son Hoss.

As for Cupp?

“I’m a big fan of the Barnyard,” he said – referring to a burger that comes with provolone cheese, bacon, pulled pork, egg and BBQ sauce.

The Ranch offers special Scottish Highland beef burgers, as well as hand-cut fries. (The Enterprise/SCOTTA CALLISTER)

Shad's son Mason cuts up real potatoes for fries at The Ranch. (The Enterprise/SCOTTA CALLISTER)

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