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The Best of Times

A Colorado company aims to alter the perception of fast food.

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When you order a burger from any of the ubiquitous chains around town, you probably don’t expect a lesson in sustainable farming. After all, sit-down bistros staffed with highly trained, food-conscious chefs are more concerned with that kind of thing. In the past decade, however, Golden-based Good Times has made natural food its thing, too. Around 2003, the 25-year-old, publicly traded franchise switched to all-natural beef for its burgers. More recently, the company incorporated regionally sourced ingredients like green chile from Santiago’s, a popular Colorado chain, and dairy products from Denver-based Robinson Dairy. And this summer, Good Times will start using humanely raised, steroid-free chicken.

Of course, a healthy choice—like serving beef that was fed a strict vegetarian diet free of steroids, hormones, and antibiotics—isn’t necessarily always kind to the bottom line. And with a recession and a McDonald’s or Burger King on seemingly every corner, one might think Good Times could be experiencing bad times. Au contraire: Same-store sales increased every month in 2011, and there are plans to add up to six new Front Range locations to the statewide roster of 43 in the next few years. “We have a unique brand personality,” Good Times’ CEO Boyd Hoback says. “And there are positive feelings about what we represent and how we operate.”

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