What happens when an entrepreneur cooks up a recipe for a great burger that sustains not only dinner cravings but also the local community and environment?
The answer looks a lot like Big Wheel Burger.
Regularly named one of the region’s favourite burger joints, the locally grown Big Wheel Burger was founded on the “triple bottom line” philosophy of social, environmental and economic performance, explains founder Calen McNeil.
“It’s a simple product but we want to give back as much as we can. I’m always looking at ways we can do more for the community, which is part of our triple bottom line business,” McNeil says. “I think it’s incumbent on people who are successful and have a good business model to give back.”
And the best part? “That success is created around breaking bread.”
Support for the environment
Founded on the principle of sustainability, with initiatives like fully compostable packaging, locally sourced ingredients, a bio-diesel van and an annual carbon neutral week, where $1 from every burger supports an environmental cause, Big Wheel was Canada’s first carbon neutral fast food restaurant.
However, McNeil notes, “while people know us for our environmental initiatives and carbon neutrality, that’s just one part of our philosophy.”
Support for staff
Believing sustainability extends to staff, Big Wheel’s Living Wage Program offers a current starting wage of $13 per hour (plus tips) based on experience, regular increases follow based on both time and performance.
“There’s a clear path for people who want opportunity,” McNeil says. “We have always been a few dollars above the industry standard, but this guarantees our staff that by their fourth year they’ll be earning BC’s Standard Living wage.”
Big Wheel also closes one day a year for a fun – and paid – staff appreciation and team-building day.
These policies pay dividends, boosting morale and attracting quality staff who see career possibilities with a growing company and community leader.
Support for community
As a local business leader, McNeil emphasizes the importance of community, a philosophy regularly discussed around the Big Wheel staff table.
This year they’ll be distributing t-shirts for Orange Shirt Day, highlighting the impact of residential schools on the Indigenous community, and offer regular support for the food bank and Santas Anonymous. McNeil is also Involved in a follow-up documentary to Us and Them by filmmaker Krista Loughton, with the new film will focus on finding solutions for indigenous homelessness.
He hopes these various efforts will inspire others to follow suit.
“Most entrepreneurs are creative and comfortable taking more risks so this is something they can apply to community and charity initiatives,” he says.
Join the Big Wheel Burger crew at the flagship restaurant in Cook Street Village, in Vic West at Westside Village and on Blanshard at Gateway Village. You’ll also find them online at bigwheelburger.com and on Facebook.