Nick Watts is proud of the burgers he builds. And, as founder of Chedda Burger – which began as a food truck and now has two brick-and-mortar locations – he deserves to be. The tattoo of a cheeseburger on an inside wrist is a reminder that a good burger can save a life. In a way, burgers saved Nick’s.
Watts is open about the past demons he wrestled with. He feels that being public about substance abuse struggles might help someone else with theirs. Mired in booze and drugs in Phoenix, Nick decided to move to Provo, in part to “clear my head and get my mind straight,” he says. In Provo, he didn’t have connections to “score” and he says that his new life in Utah represented a “second chance.”
“I had a don’t f**k this up talk with myself,” he says, adding that compared to life in Phoenix, living in Provo amidst the predominantly LDS culture there was a bit polarizing. Watts allowed a couple of Mormon missionaries to engage him, “mostly because I didn’t have any friends here and they were friendly.” He went on to be baptized into the LDS church and religion, along with working long hours, helped keep his mind and body occupied. “I didn’t have the energy to go sit in a bar and look for someone who had some oxi …” says Watts.
With a little money he’d saved, Watts bought a food truck which became Chedda Burger. A couple years ago he opened his Chedda Burger eatery downtown and, this past October, a new location in Foothill Village. “We’ve been so excited to see the success of our downtown location and now this one,” said Nick. “It wasn’t long ago that we were just one lonely food truck, and it’s inspiring the way we’ve been embraced by the Salt Lake food scene. We’ve been really fortunate.”
The new Chedda Burger serves beer and is a bit snazzier than the original location, thanks in part to its interior, designed by local artist Katherine Spatch (commonly known as “Moons”). “I would describe it as a modern take on classic local hangouts. A neighborhood-inspired eatery that is fun and inviting with its colors and layout, but also offering that classic diner feel in its shapely elements,” Spatch said of the space.
The Chedda Burger menu is a synthesis of classic and modern, with time-tested items like the Dirt Bag (beef patty, homemade American cheese, pickles, lettuce and mayo) contrasting with neauvo burgers such as Kill Me Softly, which is a beef patty with bleu cheese, bacon, arugula and cranberry sauce, all served on a Krispy Kreme donut. Occupying the middle ground are burgers like The Mother Hen: beef, Muenster cheese, fried egg, bacon, spring mix and sriracha aioli on an English muffin.
The burgers are all excellent, as are the irresistible Chedda Tots (cheddar-filled tater tots), the skin-on fries, and fried Brussels sprouts. But the menu item that will keep me coming back for more is the Banana Cream Pie Milkshake. It’s a milkshake literally made by putting banana cream pie – crust and all – into a blender. The result is sort of a banana cream pie slushie made in heaven.
Maybe it’s selfish, but I’m glad that Nick Watts got a second crack at life – one in recovery – because as long as he’s focused on building better burgers and shakes, I get to indulge in them, and so do you.