the Chzburgr team

Kelly Fletcher, Dominique Duron and Hannah Morgan are members of the Chzburgr team. (Peoria Times photos by Pablo Robles)

New burger joint Chzburgr is serving up classics with recipes that come straight from the heart.

From the vibrant orange paint on the walls to the succulent flavors that drip from every bite, happiness is a way of life for each and every person that crosses the threshold of Chzburgr’s paradise.

But rainbows don’t emerge without a little rain, and two years ago owner and head chef Kelly Fletcher was faced with a storm he wasn’t sure would ever pass.

A tooth infection had been a long-time nuisance in Fletcher’s life, but working as an independent chef left him little means to seek out a dentist. Instead, he grinned and beared the pain as he waited for it to subside on its own.

In February of 2017 while sitting on his friend’s couch celebrating the spirit of the Super Bowl with a couple of beers, Fletcher began to feel ill.

“I thought it was the beer at first, but I could usually handle my alcohol. It was so weird. I had to leave. I have never felt that kind of horrible before,” Fletcher said.

After barely making it to a hospital, the next day he fell into a coma.

The infection had spread to his heart, where just nine years prior the latex of his cardiothoracic surgeon’s hands were roaming to insert a pig’s valve to strengthen its beat.

The foreign part made any invasive procedures impossible, and with his heart working at just 7% efficiency, antibiotics and hopes for a miracle were the only things doctors could count on.

Five days later, Fletcher came to, but his struggles had only just begun.

Feeling chained to an IV bag with antibiotics, what was saving Fletcher’s life had also been what tempted him to take his own.

“Things got really dark then, really depressing. Thank God I don’t own a gun. I remember those suicidal thoughts and just wanting the pain to go away. It was just such a dark time for me. I was miserable,” Fletcher said.

But beyond the crashing thunder of his heart struggling to keep its beat and the lighting that struck every time he replaced an IV, Fletcher said he had to keep going. If anything, he had to persist to check off his bucket list.

And at the top of his list was a burger joint.

“Like six or seven years ago I just had this urge to open a burger shop and never got around to it. But after what I’d been through, I figured there wasn’t a better time than now to just go for it,” Fletcher said.

Though his background falls more on the side of fine dining with dishes inspired by flavor profiles from around the world, Fletcher said his inspiration for the joint came from right here in the West.

“Good burgers are just like a SoCal thing. I would go into any restaurant and know the burger was going to be good because that’s California’s style. But every time I came back to Arizona I felt like that wasn’t being represented,” Fletcher said.

When making the leap to open his burger shop, Fletcher said he didn’t see a need for “fluff.”

The menu is as straightforward as it gets — three types of burgers, two salads, a handful of add-ons and sides, some extras, and as a nod to a classic American diner, some milkshakes.

“Burgers are inherently good. You don’t need these crazy leaps like peanut butter brie or homemade bacon-jam burgers. Just get the best stuff you can, prepare it with care and keep it simple. People don’t need the unnecessary; they just need what makes a burger great and we have that,” Fletcher said.

The ingredients in the burgers are simple — most of them share lettuce, cheese, tomato and onion — but the flavor is anything but.

Texture and taste work together to give customers an experience filled to the brim with robust savory flavors and subtle hints of sweetness from Chzburgr’s special sauce crafted by Fletcher himself.

It just hits on everything you need from a burger. It’s what I sought out in California and was lacking when I came home. It doesn’t get better than the classics, that’s why they’re classic,” Fletcher said.