LaMichael James: University of Oregon running back great, Heisman Trophy finalist, Doak Walker award winner, San Francisco 49er, Miami Dolphin, and now… Portland restaurant owner!
James always wondered about life after football and hoped he’d be apart of the Oregon community. His hope became a dream, which he turned to reality. When he opened the doors of his Killer Burger franchise in Cedar Hills on Monday, Duck fans flocked.
The atmosphere was like an excellent backyard party: James passed out “perfect” burgers, "21" jerseys everywhere, cold beer in the glasses, good music, and Oregon sports paraphernalia on the walls (including signed jerseys by friends Damian Lillard, Russell Wilson, Jordan Bell and Jacquizz Rodgers).
James’ path to ownership required a hefty initial investment and liquid asset of $150,000. The two-time All-American now has 23 employees but already has his sights on his next venture. Hear from James himself:
BRI: Describe the feeling of opening the doors officially for the first time?
JAMES: It’s honestly been unbelievable. It’s been fantastic. The love I’ve gotten from Oregon fans and the Oregon community… I can’t say enough about this city and state. It’s been great. In the first couple minutes we had like five people and then all of a sudden, the gates started flooding. It’s remarkable.
BRI: How did you get here? What was your path to ownership like?
JAMES: You never know when you are playing football. You are always one snap away from it being over. You don’t know what is going to happen. So, I always thought about life after football. I wondered, ‘What can I do?’ I especially wanted to give back to the Oregon community. I wanted to be apart of that. I came across Killer Burger and it’s from Portland, Oregon so I decided to do it.
BRI: A lot of Duck fans have been asking me to ask you, are you thinking of opening another one in Eugene? People want to see you down there.
JAMES: Most definitely. That’s my next step, I will definitely be opening a Killer Burger in Eugene.
BRI: What is your favorite burger on the menu?
JAMES: My favorite burger on the menu would have to be all of them! Sometimes it is this one and sometimes it is that one.
BRI: Spoken like a true owner. What is the hot one right now?
JAMES: People really love the peanut butter. It’s definitely the favorite one!
[Side note: On Killer Burger menu is the Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon burger… Which is loaded with bacon, peanut butter sauce, house sauce, mayo, grilled onion and pickle.]
BRI: How are you going to be involved in the day to day running of the restaurant?
JAMES: I am the GM, so I will be here at the restaurant. I do the schedules, the food ordering, the money, everything… Everything that needs to be done, I do it.
BRI: I saw you hand out some burgers today, was that because it’s so busy for your opening or is that apart of what you will do?
JAMES: I will help out doing anything. Any area that needs me, I will help out.
BRI: How many employees do you have?
JAMES: I have 23.
BRI: (Laughs) You might need to fire two today, so that you have your number, 21.
LMJ: I know, right? Watch out!
BRI: Do you think that burgers are the greatest food of all time?
JAMES: I do think that burgers are the GOAT food because they are so American and extremely popular. I know that I go to different establishments just to try the burger and compare them, even before I owned a burger restaurant.
BRI: For you, what completes a burger meal? A coke? Fries?
JAMES: With my burger I gotta have a beer! We sell beer here. My favorite is a blue moon. I don’t drink that much but it is definitely my favorite. Don’t come in here asking for suggestions on beer, because I can’t help you but definitely love the blue moon with the orange slice.
BRI: Do you catch yourself using any ‘coach speak’ as the owner?
JAMES: I do. I just want to implement that we are all a team here. Everybody is one. There is no boss here, everyone operates as one. I want people to mesh well and get along to have a successful business.
BRI: So, win the day?
JAMES: That’s the most important thing; winning the day.
James’ Killer Burger is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., located at 2905 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.