Published by The Gazette | November 17 2012 | Written by Rich Laden
McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast-food names are local fixtures, while sit-down restaurant Red Robin Gourment Burgers has multiple locations. Newcomers to the market include Smashburger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Crave and Culver’s. Larkburger and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers opened their first area locations this year; Midwest icon Steak ‘n Shake is on its way.
And they’re all good burgers, Beaven says.
“I ate at Red Robin on my birthday,” the 55-year-old Beaven said of that chain’s popular freebie promotion.
So when he opened his second Drifter’s Hamburgers location a few months ago near the Chapel Hills Mall on the Springs’ north side, it raised an obvious question: Can a small, hometown hamburger place expand and go head-to-head with national and regional chains in one of the most competitive businesses around?
Beaven is trying, and feels he’s holding is own. His California-style burgers — which feature a Thousand Island-type dressing — conjure up comparisons to California’s famous In-N-Out Burgers. They also remind locals of Beaven’s Classics Hamburgers, which he co-founded in the Springs nearly 20 years ago.
“It was just time to give this another shot,” Beaven said of Drifter’s and his expansion.
But competition weighs heavily, he says. The night before he opened his first Drifter’s at Garden of the Gods Road and Mark Dabling Boulevard in 2008, Beaven said he sat outside in the parking lot and cried like a baby. He was terrified, he said.
“The same thing happened with this one,” Beaven said of his second Drifter’s location, east of Academy Boulevard and Jamboree Drive, which opened in mid-August in a former Taco Bell building. “The night before we opened, I just sat out there in the parking lot and said, ‘what I have done?’ I think those are fears that a lot of small business people go through. Yeah, I’m afraid. Yeah, I’m afraid of the economy. I’m afraid of the unknowns. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had more competition.”
Beaven has loved hamburgers since he was 16 and got a job working at In-N-Out Burgers in California, where he grew up. He went on to hold jobs at a half-dozen burger places, learning as he went and moving into management.
He and his wife, were vacationing in Colorado Springs in 1992 when he decided to open his own hamburger place in the Pikes Peak region. Beaven and a partner, Randy Dietz, launched Classics Hamburgers the next year, eventually with locations on South Nevada Avenue and North Academy Boulevard.
It was Dietz’s idea to call the place “Classics,” but he also had come up with the name “Drifter’s,” Beaven said.