Bob Gontram came to Taos to retire. That didn't last long.
The long-time restauranteur, who said he had opened about 165 eateries before landing in Northern New Mexico, got a bit bored. He had been thinking for awhile about a place where people could get a hamburger made with organic meat and a plethora of healthy toppings.
5 Star Burgers was born.
He picked a building on Paseo del Pueblo Sur where four other restaurants had failed. But he wasn't worried.
He knew the numbers. "I've had a lot of experience in running restaurants," said Gontram, now 75. "That's one of the best locations in Taos County."
5 Star opened April 22, 2008. Since then it has grown to five total locations, three in New Mexico and two in St. Louis, Missouri.
"We know our beef costs as much as double that of our competitors and supermarkets, but we have always believed that there is a strong market for healthy eating, especially in Taos" said Gontram in a statement. "The same quality is also present in our bison, lamb, turkey and chicken."
Another key to the restaurant's success besides good food is the staff. Gontram said four key employees have been with the restaurant since it opened. "We pay fairly well," Gontram said.
Plus tips are good for those working front of house. and he offers paid vacation after a year to anyone who works more than 30 hours a week. He starts people in positions below the one they want, so they can work their way up. "I try and make the working environment a happy place. That is key. I want people who want to come to work because they'll have a good time."
New in May at the restaurant is a burger bowl, with a beef or other meat patty on a bed of greens served with sauteed mushrooms, carrots and sliced almonds and topped with a teriyaki glaze. "I can see this becoming permanent on the menu," he said.
Sharing its success during the past ten years, Gontram said 5 Star has contributed over $60,000 to local charities and nonprofits.
"We thank all our loyal Taos customers for making this possible," he said.