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Wild Willy's Burgers: First Employer for Many Rochester Area Youth

As the school year ends it marks the start of summer employment for many high school youth.  More often than not, the first companies to employ our young people are the small businesses in your local community. In Rochester, NH one such business is Wild Willy’s Burgers which is enjoying their 13th year in business.  Located on Route 125 it has easy access to Route 16 and overlooks the Cocheco River. 

Wild Willy’s Burgers opened in October of 2004 with Co-owners Tim Haley and Gerry Richard joining together after working together for nearly 20 years with the Weathervane Restaurant chain.  They found a young concept restaurant that had started in Maine in 2001 named Wild Willy’s Burgers and brought the style of casual burger dining to New Hampshire. 

As co-owners Gerry and Tom have been active in the Rochester Community and now employ a staff of 30 full and part time workers.  They are often the first workplace for many local youth and as employers both Gerry and Tim know they are teaching life lessons about being reliable, the importance of a smile and working as a team to provide a great dining experience for thousands of families each year. 

Gerry Richard recently commented, “We have been fortunate to have a solid group of young people work for us over the years.  It is at times a challenge to be a first employer, but it is also a true delight to see a competent and at times shy young person develop a working personality and true understanding of what it is like to be welcoming and helpful as a server.”  He added, It is also very rewarding too to see some of the same young people return to work during college and then to return again after they have completed their studies and entered the “real” workforce.     

At Wild Willy’s Burgers they keep their staff of young people on their toes as they offer 15 different styles of burgers with options of Certified Angus Beef, All Natural Beef from Pineland Farm or Tender Bison.  Yes, that’s 45 options for burgers alone.  They then complimented the burgers with the options for non-beef alternatives, beverages and desserts. 

When they started the business finding financing for a restaurant is always a challenge.  In 2004 they were armed with a wealth of experience and a solid business plan and they secured an SBA 504 loan through Ocean Bank, now Peoples United Bank, and the Granite State Economic Development Corp. to help purchase the property. 

Greta Johansson, District Director of the New Hampshire office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) commented, “It is important that we take time once in a while to think about all that small businesses mean in our communities.  They are the places where business owners put it all on the line by investing their resources into a business that serves a community and builds a stronger community through employing their young people.  The summer provides us an opportunity to appreciate all the effort, commitment and passion that comes from Tim Haley and Gerry Richard to make Wild Willy’s Burgers a success for the past 13 years."

Company Name: 
Wild Willy's Burgers
Location: 
Rochester