Junior Naomi Cohen picks up her lunch, now provided by Chili's on Fridays after Burgess Brothers was replaced. Chili's had been the lunch provider on Fridays for the 2018-19 school year. (Photo by Elise Sommerhaug)

Burgess Brothers lunches canceled; late deliveries cited

Country Day stopped using Burgess Brothers BBQ & Burgers for lunch provision on Oct 25. Chili’s returned to serving as the sole lunch provider on Fridays.

Country Day learned about Burgess Brothers last year at a school event, according to chief financial officer Bill Petchauer.

“Burgess Brothers was used as the food provider,” Petchauer said. “After that, the idea of having them provide lunch along with Chili’s on Friday was discussed and agreed to.” 

Burgess Brothers began delivering lunch on Fridays at the start of the school year, according to lunch program coordinator Jennifer Adams. The lunches were well received but delivered late, Adams said, causing the agreement to be terminated. 

“They were late every delivery by at least 30 minutes,” Adams said. “It is very important for our lunch vendors to be on time.”

 Junior Elijah Azar said: “It didn’t affect me all that much, but it was unfortunate because sometimes when (Burgess Brothers) delivered late, it would be very close to elective. Sometimes, I’d have band and wouldn’t be able to eat because food particles in the woodwind instrument (are) not a good thing.”

Jonathan Burgess, co-owner of the restaurant, said the termination was a mutual decision after the number of meals provided to the school had declined to fewer than 40 students, which was insufficient to raise enough funds to donate to Breakthrough Sacramento.

“Our goal, as well as the goal of Breakthrough Sacramento, was to supply 100 to 200 meals per week, considering our donation back to Breakthrough for each meal purchased,” Burgess said.

“Two hundred meals a week would have equaled a donation of $400 per month. We believe strongly in what Breakthrough is doing. Providing opportunities to those who may not otherwise have them can be life-changing.”

According to Burgess, there were logistical issues with lunches being delivered from the Pannell Community Center in South Sacramento.

“One time, our driver was delayed,” said Burgess. “The combination of road construction and traffic from the location where the meals were being prepared was not ideal for delivery. (The delays) were mainly due to our commissary kitchen located (at Howe Avenue and Hurley Way) not being open yet.” 

In fact, on a Friday in late September, the restaurant did not deliver lunches to the high school.

“When I got to the table outside the library and discovered that not all of the food was available to hand out to students, I knew something was wrong,” said high school chemistry teacher Victoria Conner, who was on lunch duty.

Conner explained that history teacher Bill Crabb ordered pizza once he noticed the missing lunches, but the order was late because it hadn’t been placed ahead of time. 

“Many students came up to me looking for the food they had ordered,” Conner said. “I told them that their lunches were not available, but pizza was on the way.”

Burgess explained that an oversight caused lunches to be delivered only to the lower and middle schools that day.

“At the beginning of the school year, we were sent an email with all the lunches for the month,” Burgess said. “Later, a follow-up email with corrections and revisions to the number of lunches for the month was sent to us. On that day, our staff referenced the wrong email. We took full responsibility for the mix-up.”

Burgess added that several improvements were made to the company’s delivery services.

“The lunches being prepared at the Howe and Hurley commissary kitchen location (was) one improvement, considering it is much closer to campus,” Burgess said. “The second issue was internal, which had to do with the confirmation of the meals needed each Friday and was addressed prior to ending our services as a lunch provider at SCDS.”

Junior Brian Chow said he enjoyed Burgess Brothers lunches. 

“(The food) is different from the other days,” Chow said, “and I feel like it’s more filling.” 

Senior Charles Thomas agreed, adding that he enjoyed Burgess Brothers lunches more than Chili’s, the current lunch provider on Fridays.

“(Burgess Brothers was) definitely my favorite on the lunch plan,” Thomas said. “I looked forward to having them on Fridays.

“Last year, I didn’t even have my Chili’s lunches because I’m not a fan of them.”

Chow disagreed with the school’s decision.

“If anything — I know there (were) some real problems — keep both (Burgess Brothers and Chili’s). I know some people like Chili’s more, but I feel like the majority of people like the Burgess Brothers lunches more.” 

Thomas, on the other hand, said he supports the decision.

“The parents at this school are paying money so that their kids can have lunch,” Thomas said. “I think that if the food’s not going to arrive for (students) to have their lunches, then the school is rightful to get a replacement.”

—By Ming Zhu

Originally published in the Dec. 17 edition of the Octagon.

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