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‘Burger boy’ and JCW’s co-founder talks American Fork rebuild

By Carley Porter daily Herald - | Aug 18, 2019
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JCW's signs stand as construction workers rebuild the American Fork location Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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A JCW's sign stands Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in American Fork. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Construction workers continue rebuilding the JCW's in American Fork on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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A JCW's sign stands as construction workers rebuild the restaurant's American Fork location Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The original JCW’s in American Fork was open for 21 years, closing for the first time this summer to be torn down.

At first, loyal customers were pretty alarmed. “Burger flipper” and co-founder Chris Williams said he had several customers reach out to ask if there had been a fire.

No, he explained, there was no fire — just a lack of proper “flow.”

The American Fork JCW’s is housed in what used to be a Hardee’s, built in the late ’80s. Chris Williams and his brother Clay bought the building in 1998, remodeling the front of the restaurant in 2000. Since then, Chris Williams said, the volume of what employees do in the store has increased significantly, while the functionality of the space decreased.

“It wasn’t designed for our need,” he said.

On the other hand, JCW’s recently opened a new restaurant in Herriman — a brand new store with all the functional space they could dream of.

“We were contemplating doing a remodel, but there’s no way we felt we could remodel the store without closing,” Chris Williams said. After opening the new Herriman store, it was clear what they needed to do. “We just saw all the efficiences we gained and so the decision was made that rather than trying to remodel (the American Fork store) … we were just going to do it right and bite the bullet an tear it down.”

Still, the decision wasn’t easy to make, he said. After all, American Fork is the flagship store and typically the No. 1 performing store, and they had their employees to consider.

Ultimately, they were able to distribute employees among other stores. As for the loss of revenue that comes when any company has to close a store for remodeling, they feel feel the three to four months of revenue they’ve missed out on during the summer will be made up over the next 10 years with the new store.

“(The) decision was to make the store perfect this time rather than just kind of piecemeal,” Chris Williams said. “We did this as much for our customers and also our employees.”

The new building will feature a more comfortable, spacious workspace for employees, as well as more seating and parking for customers.

“I feel very confident that we made the right decision to bite the bullet because when the customers and our employees see the efficiency and how everything flows and just better environment, it’s just better for everybody.”

Chris Williams predicts the new store will open between Sept. 5-15. He looks forward to continuing to serve the American Fork community, along with wife Libby, and his co-founder and brother Clay.

“We are very endeared to the people of American Fork,” he said. “They have a special place in our heart.”

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