Everyone knows kids are super creative. So, when Park Burger President Peter Newlin thought about how Denver-area youth could gain real-world experience in the restaurant industry, he thought why not challenge them to create the best burger? Enter Burger Biz, a collaboration between Young Americans Center for Financial Education’s YouthBiz program and Park Burger restaurants.
In the Burger Biz challenge, middle and high school students had one week to formulate their burger idea. Anna Leer, Vice President of YouthBiz, led the group through a curriculum that helped them invent, research, and present their concept to a panel of judges.
Industry experts provided wisdom along the way. Peter Newlin started the week with a lesson on concept design intended to spark the kids’ ideas from the start. Craig Dimond, Account Executive at Shamrock Foods, helped students think about cost analysis and pricing. Youth learned about marketing from Ben Risler, Account Manager at Two Parts, and they honed their pitches with assistance from Matt Gregory, who works with Birdcall and who is helping to develop a new technology platform for Park Burger.
At the end of the week, judges selected the top three ideas to send to the finale, which occurred on Saturday, September 22 at Park Burger in RiNo. At this event, the three finalists delivered their presentations and, for the first time, their burger was created by Park Burger staff. The judging panel consisted of Dave Northrup, Founder/Chief Strategist at Kaizen Sales Strategy, Dina Castillo, Partner at Ash’Kara Restaurant, Abby Schwarz, Regional Marketing Manager at Yelp, Jean-Philippe Failyau, Founder of Park Burger, and Peter Newlin.
The competition was fierce. At just 13-year-old, Cameron was the youngest finalist for his burger, Future Fry Patty, inspired by his love of French fries. He even wore his own custom t-shirt to promote his idea. Jazmine, who is 15 years old, created Leafy Baby Veggie Burger and wowed the judges with her marketing deck.
But it was 16-year-old Chaurice Chaput who took home the grand prize. In addition to winning $500, Chaurice’s Ring of Fame burger will be the featured “Burger of the Month” at Park Burger during the month of October. Judges commended Chaurice’s ability to use classic flavors in a unique way, flavors like American cheese-infused burger, smoky barbeque sauce, bacon, and an onion ring all on a pretzel bun.
Young Americans Center’s signature hands-on programs create environments where youth get to experience, not just learn about real-world lessons, and Burger Biz has done just that. According to Mr. Newlin, “These kids have gained valuable experience and a real result. It’s been an amazing week!”