Burgerville takes on new investors with an eye on reigniting regional growth

Former Dutch Bros CEO Joth Ricci is among the investors and joins the company as executive chair. CEO Ed Casey will remain at the helm.
Burgerville operates 39 units in Oregon and Washington state. | Photo: Shutterstock

The fast-casual Burgerville chain has been acquired by a group of local investors that have plans to reignite growth.

The Vancouver, Washington-based chain said late Friday that new investors have taken an unspecified ownership stake in the company, though the founding Mears family remain as shareholders. The new investors include former Dutch Bros CEO Joth Ricci, who will become executive chairman.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close on Monday, were not disclosed.

Ed Casey, an industry veteran who joined the brand about two years ago, will remain CEO of Burgerville, which was founded in 1961 and operates 39 restaurants throughout Oregon and Washington state, with a 40th opening later this year in Wilsonville, Oregon.By the end of 2025, the company expects to add six to 10 new units across the Pacific Northwest.

Unit No. 40 will be the first new restaurant for the chain in eight years.

In an interview with Restaurant Business at the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Phoenix last month, Casey said the chain had made “a few missteps” that hampered growth after the then-patriarch of the family-owned business retired about 10 years ago.

“There were some efficiency problems and some consistency problems that were retarding their unit execution,” Casey said. “But the chain still had tremendous brand loyalty. So the opportunity coming in was just to unclog it and make sure it’s working well, and drive revenues.”

Over the past two years, Burgerville has seen double-digit sales, with 2023 marking a record year in both revenue and profit, he said. Casey sees a lot more room for filling in existing markets across Oregon, Washington and into Idaho.


Burgerville's Big Sassy Cheeseburger, an LTO earlier this year. | Photo courtesy of Burgerville.

Casey said he admires the growth model of In-N-Out Burger, which has slowly expanded within the reach of its carefully controlled supply chain.

Like In-N-Out, Burgerville is all company owned. Burgerville also has a commitment to local farmers and vendors built into its DNA, which allows the brand to showcase regional flavors and ingredients in season, like Marionberries and Walla Walla onions. Burger buns, for example, are made from locally grown grains, and the No. 6 burger on the menu is made with beef from a regenerative farm and showcases a low-carbon footprint.

“Burgerville was a pioneer in sustainability and local long before those were industry buzzwords,” said Ricci, in a statement. “I’m excited to be able to play a role in the next leg of the Burgerville journey.”

Ricci, who stepped down from the helm at Dutch Bros at the end of last year as part of a planned succession after guiding the drive-thru coffee chain through its 2021 IPO, described Burgerville in The Oregonian as “a sleeping giant.”

Casey added in the statement that the mission has always been to “serve our local community with love” and prepare for growth across the Pacific Northwest.

“To do that, the Mears family and I wanted to team up with local partners who share our values and vision for Burgerville—and that’s what we found,” he said.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


2 more reminders that the restaurant business is risky

The Bottom Line: Franchising is no less risky than opening your own restaurant. Just ask former NFL player David Tyree and the former president of McDonald's Mexico.


There's plenty happening at the high end of the pricing barbell, too

Reality Check: Decadent meal choices are also proliferating, for a lot more than $5.


Reassessing McDonald's tech deals from 2019

The Bottom Line: The fast-food giant’s decision to end its drive-thru AI test with IBM is the latest pullback away from a pair of technology acquisitions it made five years ago.


More from our partners