Industry News | October 21, 2009

In Canyons, A Taste of the Great Outdoors

Atlanta-based Canyons Burger Company announced that it will donate 10 percent of its sales on October 29 to the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR) organization.

The promotion, “Hooch Day,” will benefit the UCR’s efforts to preserve the Chattahoochee River, which is Atlanta’s main source of water for drinking, industry, and recreation. Canyons will also provide food for UCR’s Annual Member Celebration on November 8 at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.

Nick Binnings, co-founder and chief operating officer for Canyons Burger Company, says the partnership with the UCR follows in the concept’s mission to promote an outdoor lifestyle.

“We’re very familiar with what they’re trying to do. So we reached out to them,” Binnings says. “We knew that that’s really what Canyons is about.”

That pursuit of an outdoor, active theme for the company encouraged the restaurant’s décor, and also led to the Get Outside program, Binnings says. For Get Outside, Canyons partnered with Atlanta metro-area company Nantahala Outdoor Center to provide rafting and fishing trips to kids in local schools.

“Our goal with Get Outside is we want to get kids off the couch and away from the computers, to get active in the outdoors,” Binnings says.

The two-unit concept—which was recently purchased by Baja Fresh Mexican Grill CEO David Kim, who assumed the same role at Canyons—focuses on an outdoor, active lifestyle because it was a passion shared by Binnings and co-founder and president Sonny Crumpton.

Binnings says the theme works well with the personality of the concept, even if it isn’t immediately apparent.

“If you get outside and you’re an active person, you can still afford to eat a burger,” he says. “We’re not trying to be a healthy concept, we’re just trying to be an active lifestyle concept. The active outdoors, it’s just a part of who we are.”

For an upstart focusing on future franchising, charitable giving might not always be top of mind. “From a business standpoint you have to make sure that the model works and that you’re doing what you need to do to survive,” Binnings says. “On the other hand, it’s the responsible thing to do.”

Binnings says that if the cause is right, charitable giving can be a great strategy for a brand, even a start-up.

“You’re going to see us spending money on helping kids get outside, and things like this 10 percent to the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers. That builds brand awareness,” he says. “Hopefully [customers] come in to support the UCR, and in turn, they taste our product for the first time, and hopefully we can convert them into a fan.”

By Sam Oches