Twins Matthew (law enforcement officer) and Jonathan (firefighter) Burgess opened a barbecue and burger restaurant after facing off in a televised burger competition. The brothers’ company has taken off since its opening. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Burgess)

Along with fighting fire, crime, local siblings light up grills; Breakthrough director brings Burgess Brothers BBQ & Burgers to Country Day

“These guys rock!” Faith Galati, executive director of Breakthrough Sacramento, said about the Burgess brothers,  creators of Burgess Brothers BBQ & Burgers. 

The twins recently formed a partnership with Country Day and Breakthrough.

They closed their BBQ & Burger restaurant to move forward with their brand, according to Burgess Brothers’ 2018 year-end newsletter. However, they do have a ChurWaffle (churro, cornbread, waffle) and Chicken stand at Stockton Arena and are opening more locations. 

Jonathan Burgess, a firefighter, and Matthew Burgess, a law enforcement officer, began their company in 2012 after competing against each other in a burger contest on Good Day Sacramento. 

Jonathan said his and his brother’s love for cooking came long before then.

“We have always gravitated toward being in the kitchen,” Jonathan Burgess said. “We started cooking at 6 years old, and we learned how to cook almost everything from our mom. At 6 or 7, we were making our own breakfasts.”

Jonathan Burgess said when the opportunity arose to try something new, the brothers seized it. 

Since its opening, the business has expanded.

“We moved from restaurants to packaged foods (including barbecue sauce, cornbread mix and sausage), supplying to school districts, hotels, casinos and restaurant establishments,” Jonathan Burgess said. “Now we do more hospitality food service and catering. 

“And the business side has moved us into consulting, mentorship and creating relationships like the one we have with Breakthrough and Country Day.”

Galati, who introduced the brothers to the school, said she met them via a former Country Day parent and mutual friend.

“As soon as I met with Jonathan Burgess and Matt, there was an instant connection,” Galati said. 

She added that she soon recognized the potential of a partnership between the company and Breakthrough. 

The Burgess brothers join Breakthrough director Faith Galati and Breakthrough students during the summer program. The brothers spoke to students about their entrepreneurship; they also offered free cornbread mix to students who asked questions during the visit. (Photo courtesy of Galati)

“Every summer we invite people to talk about their careers to Breakthrough students,” Galati said. “I like to bring people in from all different professions to expose the kids to opportunities for themselves.”

Galati said the brothers, as civil servants and entrepreneurs, were the perfect pair to introduce to the students.  

“For our students to see their energy and their progressive pursuit of entrepreneurism is fantastic,” Galati said. “The kids loved them, and they are such great mentors.”

Jonathan Burgess said he felt equally excited about his company’s involvement with Breakthrough. 

“When we found out what Breakthrough was all about, we thought it fit perfectly within our goals and objectives,” Jonathan Burgess said. “We spoke to a group in the summer program, and I just fell in love with Breakthrough’s mission to provide opportunities for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have them.

“The success rate is phenomenal, and it’s great to be a part of that.”

Since the original collaboration, the relationship between Breakthrough and the Burgess brothers has continued to “grow tremendously,” according to Jonathan Burgess.

Galati said the new relationship is mutually beneficial.

“They love to do fundraising events,” Galati said. “So our first objective was to have a fundraiser here at Country Day during the school year with the brothers’ meals.”

Traditionally, the high school hosts Breakthrough fundraisers twice a year, according to Galati. In the past, these have included a taco eating contest and the high school’s World Cultures Day.

Galati said that, rather than selling tacos for Breakthrough, the school could partner with the Burgess Brothers, who would bring meals to benefit the program.

“These gentlemen make killer barbeque,” Galati said. “And I suspected that the kids would love it.” 

So Galati set up a meeting between the brothers and various members of the Country Day community, including high school class representatives, teachers and head of school Lee Thomsen. 

“They brought food samples, and everybody was just crazy about them,” Galati said. “We agreed on fundraisers and also discussed the idea of having their food here regularly, possibly through the school lunch program.”

Since the initial meeting on Dec. 14, Galati said the brothers have been sending menus to the school and working on pricing.

They might join the lunch program later this year or next year, with a portion of the proceeds going toward Breakthrough.

They also catered this year’s high school end-of-finals meal on Jan. 22.

According to junior Garrett Shonkwiler, it was “the best catering the school has had.”

Besides this large-scale involvement with Country Day, Galati said she is already planning more fundraisers for Breakthrough of which the brothers could be a part — including  an annual event called, “Are you smarter than a Breakthrough student?”

She said that along with the company’s message, its food was a huge factor in her enthusiasm about the brothers’ company.

“You can’t beat their barbeque,” Galati said. “Once you taste it, you want more.

“And there’s something so rewarding about the meals coming from two local entrepreneurs who try to source their food locally and are committed to our community. It’s not a big corporate conglomerate — it’s the company of two fantastic entrepreneurs and civil servants.”

Jonathan Burgess said the partnership with Country Day and Breakthrough is a first for his company, and he would love to form similar ones.

“First we want to focus on Breakthrough and Country Day and make sure we knock this one out of the park before we bring on any others,” Jonathan Burgess said. “We are thoroughly impressed with Country Day, and we are really looking forward to working with the students and the faculty.

“But I see it as something that, in the future, we would love to grow. Our hope is to eventually use this partnership as an example for other schools.

“Good things happen when (people) come together working toward the same goal.”

—By Anna Frankel

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