Those of us who call Gothenburg home, or who ever have, know what a great place this is to live in. And that great place is about to get even better...Good Life is coming home.
The Heibner family - Zach, and his parents Royce and Brenda - opened the BBQ restaurant Good Life on the Bricks in North Platte in July 2019. Now plans are moving forward with a second location right here in Gothenburg. The dream and vision for expanding the Good Life brand has been in the back of Zach’s mind from the beginning, and he said he is beyond excited to have the opportunity to make that happen.
“We had to change so much of what we were doing as we went through Covid, and we learned a lot about how to make do with what we had,” said Zach. “But we came out of it even better. We didn’t want to get too big too fast, and Covid definitely made us slow down.”
Zach did not keep his dreams of expanding to another location to himself. In fact, word had gotten back to members of the Gothenburg Improvement Company (GIC) that the family was looking for another location, so GIC sprung into action and approached the Heibner’s about establishing that in Gothenburg.
“The timing of everything just seemed right,” Zach explained. “Our family is very close and we talk about things, and if something isn’t a good fit for the Heibners then we won’t do it. But this is our town - we've been here forever and we love it here. It just made sense. And the spot we got is as good as anyplace we could have hoped for.”
The new restaurant, appropriately named Good Life Gothenburg, will be built directly west of Orscheln and Peterson’s new grocery store located in the former Shopko building. “Gothenburg is growing. We have new houses coming in, new industry coming in and more business than we’ve ever had. Gothenburg is moving up - and we want to be a part of that,” Zach said.
Royce said he and Brenda are very excited about partnering with their son in this business opportunity. “Our approach has been to just go step by step and if things keep moving forward, then that’s a good indication to keep moving forward,” said Royce. “In talking with the GIC and what they had in mind in terms of what they need now and in the future, the model we have in North Platte fit very well here - at least portions of it. We want to have the same comfortable atmosphere and good food.”
Zach said the menu at Good Life Gothenburg will be a little different than what is found at the North Platte location. “It will be reminiscent of North Platte, but it will be Gothenburg’s own thing,” he explained. “The North Platte location is a very old building with apartments above it so we could never have hood vents, so therefore we can’t have a fryer, a flat top or a broiler. So we have made it work without all of that traditional cooking equipment, but here we will be able to have all that. We will still have the BBQ fusion mixed in, but we will have lots of burgers, seafood, pasta, steak and sandwiches also. I have a ton of new fun stuff that I can be creative with now because I will have a real cook’s kitchen.”
Coming up with new food ideas is what makes Zach tick. Few things excite him more than creating entrees that are unique and different from what you can find anywhere else.
The plan for Good Life Gothenburg also includes outdoor spaces which can be utilized for a variety of different events and activities. “We just want to be a part of the community and have the community be part of us,” said Royce. “We look forward to engaging the younger crowd, and we really see a good fit for that as not just a good place to eat but a place for family gatherings as well.” The outdoor space will include sand volleyball courts and seating areas which Zach said can be used for various community events.
When it came to selecting a name for the new restaurant, Royce said the family really didn’t discuss too many options. “We wanted a name that would tie into the community and that the community could tie into itself. We also wanted to maintain the same brand as we have in North Platte,” he explained.
Zach said the new restaurant will also offer curbside pickup and in-town delivery service.
Royce recently retired from his chiropractic practice and is devoting his time to helping manage the Good Life restaurant. From the beginning he has handled all of the bookkeeping and administrative work for the business. “You’re probably not going to see me cooking or waiting tables,” Royce laughed. “I’ll be doing more quality control.”
“And that is huge,” added Zach. “He knows what I look for and how to control things. And now that we are going to have two locations that will be so helpful. I just feel so blessed to be in business with my family, because who can you trust more than your own family?”
Staffing is always an issue in the food industry, but Zach said if that was the only thing that was going to stand in their way they could overcome that. “I’m being optimistic and thinking the community is going to have a good response,” he said.
Zach also said he had shied away from hiring high school students in the past, but recently has given a few of them a shot - and he is impressed. “That makes me hopeful for here. We have a great high school, and this will be a great opportunity to learn some life skills that they can take with them wherever they go and whatever they go into.”
The restaurant will be an entirely newly constructed building, and with the delay in being able to get building materials the process will likely not move quite as quickly as the Heibners would like. Adding to that, issues of weather and availability of contractors make it look at this point that they will most likely be up and running by late Spring 2022.
Being a native of Gothenburg and friends with other restaurant owners in town, Zach said those relationships did come into play when making the decision to locate here. “But I do believe there is room in this town for all of us. It is giving people options, and there is room for still other options. Gothenburg is growing and we have to have things here for people to be attracted to. We have to have good spots for people to eat, places for them to go and fun things for them to do to keep those dollars in town. And we love this town.”