Second Helpings

Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard

As the Chipotle IPO took off last week at a near-record pace, I visited another Colorado born-and-bred chain. Good Times -- which was founded in 1987, six years before the first Chipotle went up -- is a drive-thru burger joint in a world crowded with competition. To date, there are only 35 outlets (34 in Colorado and one in Boise, of all places), but the company has a model similar to that of the big-ass-burrito kings, offering a small, compact menu with everything made fresh, made fast and from quality ingredients. Good Times uses Coleman Natural beef in its burgers -- akin to the Niman Ranch products used by Chipotle -- and has attempted to carve out a niche as a healthier, better, more burger-licious option for those still freaked out by buying their burgers from a clown. And it works. Good Times does a good burger, producing a sandwich that actually looks like the one pictured in its advertising rather than some wrinkled, desiccated, heat-lamped and pitiable facsimile. The toppings are fresh, the meat tender, the bun soft. And the trademarked "Wild Fries" are hideously addictive, so much so that I often crave them far more than the burgers. While I wouldn't list Good Times among the local burger elite (see Bite Me), there's something to be said for a place trying its best to elevate the reputation of drive-thru burgers in a world so chock-full of bad ones. Those of you who missed out on buying low with Chipotle should also know that Good Times is a publicly traded company as well (symbol GTIM), and McDonald's doesn't own the smallest piece of it.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan