Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
It is hard to imagine a business that has made itself as much a part of Utah's culture as Arctic Circle.
For more than 70 years, Arctic Circle's restaurants have been delighting customers with classic menu items such as "Above The Rim" Shakes, 100% Black Angus Beef hamburgers, and real Alaskan Halibut. With a heavy footprint in an extremely family-friendly area, Arctic Circle built its reputation by using original family recipes that are both very tasty and very unique.
The chain's most well-known creation, The Original Fry Sauce, has since become ubiquitous at nearly every spot in the state where fries are sold. If Utah had an official state condiment, it would more than likely be fry sauce. Utahns have Arctic Circle to thank for that.
Utah's love of a good, quick meal – with a bit of Fry Sauce – has made Arctic Circle a community favorite since its humble beginnings as a snack stand at a Pioneer Day celebration in 1924.
Wanting to give back to the community that has helped the burger stand become a regional dining hotspot, the restaurant founded the 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Arctic Cares, in 2015.
"The goal with it was to give back to the community, but to do it in a way that is a little bit different than other charities," Arctic Circle's vice president of marketing, Joe Evans, says.
Arctic Cares often stays behind the scenes making helpful donations to worthy nonprofits and individuals throughout the Intermountain West. Donations can be as much as tens of thousands of dollars to other local charities, or smaller ones to an employee who finds themselves in a bind due to circumstances out of their control. There is usually very little fanfare or media coverage for many of these donations made by Arctic Cares.
"If we hear of somebody who is struggling, we can step in and give them a little bit of financial assistance," Evans says. "It's designed to help our employees, our vendors, partners, and guests who come through Arctic Circle, and continues to grow over the years."
Arctic Cares' initial funding came from selling bottles of – you guessed it – The Original Fry Sauce that has become so quintessentially Utahn. Arctic Circle pledged to commit $1 of every bottle sale into the Arctic Cares fund.
In recent years, Arctic Cares has found other creative ways to fund itself outside of Fry Sauce bottle sales. One initiative has been the Arctic Cares Hearts promotion, rewarding customers for making a small donation. A $1 donation results in a free ice cream cone for the guest, a $5 donation is rewarded with a sundae, and a $10 donation is appreciated with an "Above The Rim" Shake.
"It's difficult for people to ask for money, but we figured if we gave them a treat for their donation, it is much easier to say, 'Oh you're going get something from us for being generous," Evans says.
It gives the term courtesy cone a whole new meaning.