J&W’s Fast Food Serving Southeast Alaska
Joshua and Clarissa Young own J&W’s Fast Food in Wrangell and are serving the freshest quality, handmade burgers possible in Southeast Alaska. With customer service, quality, and the community at the heart of their mainly made-from-scratch menu, Joshua and Clarissa are proud of every meal passed to happy customers through their to-go window.
With customers from across the state and as far as Texas and Florida, being told J&W’s is serving the best burger their customers have had – anywhere – is a point of pride and proves their entrepreneurial spirit and business application is working, and working well.
When we asked what inspired them to start J&W’s, Joshua shared that they believe our senses “transport” us back in time to revisit memories of our childhood. From the people that we loved, events that were meaningful, and meals and recipes shared. For Joshua, some of his most vivid and happy childhood memories were of him and his grandfather riding back from their favorite burger spot on Sundays. Further, “food is unique because if done right and consistently then it can harness two of those powerful senses to zap us back in time to what is typically a good time in our lives. I can’t think of a better way to leave my mark on the world than helping people not only make memories but providing them with the vehicle to revisit them time after time and bite after bite.”
To share this experience with his community, Joshua began working with the Alaska Small Business Development Center (Alaska SBDC). With his advisor Ian Grant, he worked on business planning, financials, and prepared for meeting with financers. He explained, “Ian was always available to help to use as a sounding board in which I would share my ideas and he would give me his thoughts from a perspective that I really just didn’t have. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that without the Alaska SBDC I would not be halfway to where I am today and it would have cost a lot more to get here.”
Since happily running J&W’s, Joshua and Clarissa have also been working on the businesses’ brand. As prior military members and Joshua having served as an Airborne Parachute Rigger, they have worked on branding J&W’s in a way that every soldier can relate to and feel comfortable in.
In their business plans for the future, they are also working on opening a DropZone burger spot in Anchorage, located near Elmendorf Airforce Base with further plans to expand near as many military installations as possible.
As J&W’s works on expansion, we had to ask what his takeaways are as a small business owner.
In true entrepreneurial and Alaskan spirit, he shared, “Don’t ever doubt yourself. Listen to people that you respect but in the end, make a decision based on what you know to be true. No means numerous opportunities. Don’t stop trying and don’t let failure discourage you.”
With customers at the heart of J&W’s and their upcoming plans, Joshua and Clarissa love that they have a place to connect and continue to serve. “Getting the opportunity to get to know all the people that frequent us has been extremely rewarding in ways that I never could have imagined. I also absolutely love to cook. I love what I do and it is a blessing to actually make a living doing what I would do for free.” It’s the American dream, to be certain.
That’s not all J&W’s is up to. Joshua and Clarissa partnered with their local high school to provide school lunch once a week; this allows them to make a large amount of food and serve it at once instead of taking orders one-by-one. As of this year, they are serving about 40 meals twice a week at both the local high school and middle school. They are also excited about the opportunity to do the same with their local elementary school in the year to come. From developing kids’ lunch menus and preparing healthy and delicious meals, J&W’s is committed to giving back to their community.
For the week of Spring Break, children in Wrangell enjoyed free lunch from J&W’s. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent school closures, J&W’s is providing reduced rate lunch to children to ensure they do not miss a meal they otherwise would have had during regular school hours. Partnering with another local restaurant in town that provides breakfast and lunch, J&W’s is proud to be providing lunch and dinner. No question, this is a gracious effort and one his community will not soon forget.
Joshua shared with us further, “People here care deeply for their neighbors and the community as a whole and make it a point of pride to never pass up on the opportunity to help one another. It is because of this that in times of strife we have been able to use our storefront as a vehicle for fundraising.” J&W’s is regularly hosting multiple benefit days that in total have raised more than $10,000 for people in need. For Joshua and Clarissa, this is an honor to be a part of the giving nature of their community and to give back however they can.
Humility, community, and excellent cooking. In the times that we are in with COVID-19, J&W’s Fast Food is stepping up and serving in more ways than one. J&W’s is located at 120 Front Street in Wrangell, AK. For those local, they are now offering online ordering and delivery! Check-in on Facebook and at https://thedropzoneburger.com/