Part 1 in a 4 Part Series
According to local folklore and Vera’s Burger Shack’s own PR machine, Vera’s got its start back in 1977 when a lady named Vera Hockfelder opened a seasonal burger stand in West Vancouver and gained a cult following by preparing hand pressed burgers with secret seasoning spice.In 2000, Vera sold out the West Vancouver burger stand to Gerald Tritt who brought in local sports star Noah Cantor a year later to help him open the first year round location in Kitsilano. In the following years, Gerald & Noah opened locations on Denman and another on Davie St in downtown Vancouver. By the second half of the 2000s, Gerald and Noah were selling new franchised locations on Commercial Drive and Main St to a longtime employee and the Denman and Davie locations to other franchisees eager to jump into the burger craze.
By the time of the 2010 winter olympics, Vera’s had 16 locations and all seemed well with Vera’s empire. Its founders had been voted in as members of the top 40 under 40 in Business in Vancouver (BIV) and had been offered a buy out in excess of 3 million dollars. Its founders refused the offer on the basis that the “sky was the limit” in terms of growth and that a 1000 store franchise was in their sights.
However, the franchise’s growth had been fueled by the stimulus spending associated with the Olympic infrastructure and the burger craze sweeping North Amercia As the Olympic construction ended at the same time as the discretionary spending habits of a lot of Vera’s burger fans. The Vancouver economy was about to get a whole lot tighter and the business model that Vera’s operated with in the late 2000s began to stumble with the founders’ former golden touch beginning to rust at the edges.