Imagine you’re on a long car ride. You want to take a break and grab something to eat. You have been trying to make healthy choices and are skipping meat and dairy as often as possible. A quick scan of the restaurants on the “Next Rest Stop” sign doesn’t give you too much hope for good options, but it’s either this or wait another hour for the chance at something else. Once in the restaurant you choose, your scan the menu and the all too familiar sinking feeling in your stomach starts – there is hardly a vegetable on the menu, let alone an option that is meat OR dairy free. There has to be a better option out there, right?!
We have been in this situation TOO many times, and luckily, so have Matt and Cierra de Gruyter. They, however, have set out to fix it.
In 2014, Matt and Cierra opened the doors of the very first Next Level Burger, an all plant-based burger joint located in Bend, Oregon. The menu, crafted by Cierra, features all the staples you could dream of in a fast, casual burger restaurant: burgers, hot dogs, tater tots, and even milkshakes. Using healthy, sustainable, GMO-free, organic, and fair trade ingredients, Next Level Burger is completely redefining the world of burgers.
From their first location, Next Level Burger has expanded to five West Coast restaurants and recently broke ground on their first East Coast restaurant, located inside the new Whole Foods 365 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn at 292 Ashland Place.
In a recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, Matt and Cierra dish (pun intended) about their journey revolutionizing the classic American burger concept. Cierra shares how she convinced Matt to leave his career in the oil and gas industry to start a restaurant – at the time, he thought would be the only thing riskier than the job he was already doing – and they explain how a former employee from a pioneering social media platform helped them expand.
This couple clearly shares a passion for sustainable food but beyond that, they know how to make really, really delicious burgers plant-based. Just listening to them describe “The Animal” burger, which comes loaded with bacon, french fries, and barbecue sauce, will definitely make you submit a request to have them come to your town.
To hear more about how they snagged a partnership with Whole Foods and their vision to create a sustainable food future that everyone can enjoy, listen in.
You can listen to the full episode below or on the following platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher.
If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast for new episodes with food industry leaders, health, and sustainability experts, as well as entrepreneurs and creative minds who are redefining the future of food.
All image source: Next Level Burger