Working with his son, Duke, Stan Alvey opened Stan’s Burger Shak in 1984, a small restaurant for tourists and locals in Hanksville, Utah. Within a few years, Duke and his wife Jessica began working as key employees for the business. Together they learned to run every aspect of the business. They also learned ways to keep the business alive, a major accomplishment for any business in the rural, remote community of Hanksville with a population of 200. By 1996, the Alvey’s decided to purchase the business from Duke’s father.
Stan’s Burger Shak has become a legendary restaurant for both locals and tourists traveling to Lake Powell. A vacation tradition for many, the Alvey’s have been serving some of the same out-of-state visitors for over twenty years. In addition to cultivating a rich collection of customers over the years, the Alvey’s have also cultivated new business opportunities. Since 2005, they have purchased a Chevron station and acquired the Whispering Sands Motel. The motel has become a thriving business in Hanksville with uncompromising quality.
In 2012, the Alvey’s contacted the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to leverage their growth opportunities. They attended a FastTrac® GrowthVenture™ class, taught by Keith Church, a counselor at the Snow College SBDC, and continued to work with him to implement their plans. “The SBDC has been wonderful to work with. It opened our eyes to a different way of thinking about business and growth,” says Jessica. The Alvey’s also took advantage of an SBDC customer service training for their employees.
“Many small businesses try to save money by limiting staff, but that results in poor service and overall business decline,” says Jessica. “The real turning point in our success was when we stopped worrying about saving money and how well we could do. Instead we focused on how well the customers, employees and the community would do. That’s when we began to grow!”
In the spring of 2013, Dale and Jessica acquired a fourth business—Duke’s Slickrock Grill, Campground and RV Park. The Alvey’s have come a long way since they took ownership of Stan’s Burger Shak. Having started out with just ten employees, the Alvey’s now provide employment for 51 people—nearly a quarter of Hanksville’s population.
Going forward, the Alvey’s would like to expand the motel’s capacity to accommodate bus tours. This could be a very profitable step for the community of Hanksville because tourists are more likely to spend money in the locations in which they stay. Duke and Jessica are passionate about helping their own community and are determined to improve the economic well-being for many people in their beloved community—a noble aspiration for any entrepreneur.