Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas Launches Community Program at Tasty Burger

He cut the ribbon at the Boston burger joint's latest location in Dudley Square.

Tasty Burger executives and Celtics star Isaiah Thomas

(From left) MA Rep. Gloria Fox, Tasty Burger/Franklin Restaurant Group CEO Dave DuBois, chef Brian Reyelt, Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, and Franklin Restaurant Group CFO and partner Phil Andino at the #ITHelpdesk launch at Tasty Burger Dudley Square. / Photo by Jacqueline Cain

When Isaiah Thomas’ agents pitched him on a community partnership with Boston’s local burger shop, Tasty Burger, it was a no-brainer, according to the Celtics All-Star point guard.

“Before my agency finalized the deal, I always went to Tasty Burger after games, because it’s a place that’s open a little later than usual, and the burgers are good,” Thomas said, during a grand opening celebration of the company’s newest location on Tuesday afternoon.

A bacon cheeseburger with lettuce and a large order of fries were waiting for him to be done posing for photos and signing autographs for local kids and teens—and granting interviews to the media. 

Thomas cut the ceremonial red ribbon at the Dudley Square Tasty Burger, alongside Tasty Burger and Franklin Restaurant Group CEO Dave DuBois, chef Brian Reyelt, Massachusetts state representative Gloria Fox, and other faces of the Roxbury community.

In conjunction with the restaurant’s grand opening, Thomas also announced a new community platform, an education and mentorship effort called #ITHelpDesk. Exactly how it will be executed is still in the works, but the #ITHelpDesk will allow local organizations and schools to nominate young people to have one-on-one relationships with Thomas.

It’s another aspect of his community service efforts, under a foundation called the Isaiah Thomas Family Giving Fund. Thomas hosts a charity basketball tournament in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington, every year, and he works with education organizations like World Vision USA.

Tasty Burger donated the sales made at its Dudley Square location today to Thomas’ foundation, DuBois said.

“I want to be that face of my foundation, showing kids that it’s possible,” Thomas said. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do what you want to do: Through hard work and dedication, you can achieve any goal.”

Thomas knows this first-hand: At just 5-foot-9, he’s one of the National Basketball Association’s shortest players. He was selected dead last in the 2011 draft, which he entered prior to his senior year of college. He finished his degree during his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings.

Every day, I always had somebody tell me I wasn’t going to be an NBA player. I kept at it, I kept working, kept faith in God, and it happened. That’s just me keeping faith in myself and continuing the grind. I want to give that back to the community,” he said.

Thomas joined the Celtics last season, and earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week during his first week in Boston. He’s continued to have an impact on a nightly basis for the team; he’s currently averaging more than 20 points per game, and he recently made the undisputed most beautiful pass of the season so far.

Last month, he represented the Celtics in the All-Star Game—the lowest draft pick ever to be selected.

“It’s the best city that I’ve been a part of, and I’ve been on three NBA teams,” Thomas said of Boston. “The support level has been amazing. It makes you want to go out there and play your heart out. It’s more than just being a professional athlete. This city really cares about everybody in it. I like being a part of it and I hope to be here a while.”

And his partnership with Tasty Burger is here to stay, too. “Tasty Burger might provide some food at an Isaiah camp, or there might be #ITHelpDesk marketing materials at locations throughout Boston,” suggested Michaela Hammond, his agent at Excel Sports Management. “It’s still in development, but they are a willing an awesome partner, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”