Many people have asked Ed and I why we created Grassburger - and of course, there is a story behind it! It began with our three children....two of whom have serious food allergies. When it came time to go out to eat, particularly when traveling, we felt extremely limited.
Most of the time, we would choose a burger place. It seemed the safest option in avoiding dairy & peanuts. And the boys all loved burgers. But because of the way we ate at home (wholesome and nutritious, emphasis on clean foods), I was always very unhappy with the restaurants we found.
At home, we ate grass-fed beef purchased from local ranchers and made our own veggie patties out of beans. Both types of burgers became family favorites and we started having burger parties with friends and family. While we never envisioned ourselves running an actual restaurant, when a local restaurant owner came to us to discuss some business, we started thinking about it in earnest. The timing seemed right and once we wrote the business plan... it moved forward quickly.
When we wrote the plan for what eventually became Grassburger, we realized that what we were looking for was what a lot of other consumers were looking for! Clean, great-tasting food at an affordable price. And whether you have allergies, eat Paleo, are trying to create healthier eating habits or just want a delicious burger .... we could have something for everyone!
Sounds simple right? Just order a bunch of food and start serving it .... not so fast! While we were finely tuned into the clean food movement, we quickly discovered that serving this food outside of our home wasn't that easy. Here were some of our challenges:
- Finding grass-fed beef sourcing (at the time, there were few ranches who were able to operate on a large enough scale to meet a restaurant's needs, plus grass-fed beef is expensive!).
- Finding commercial vendors who understood our "clean food" focus.
- Finding clean food that was affordable.
- How to add in local farmer produce... again in an affordable way.
- How to address the wide range of allergies.
- How to create a GF friendly environment.
- Education of staff and public.
Each of these pieces has had its own story and challenges. We are better at some than others. We learned much both before and after opening in Durango... and now in Albuquerque. We are STILL learning and evolving. We hope you will share this journey with us!
Warmly, Jess & Ed Kileen
Early construction of Grassburger Durango
Crew: Jonathan Byers, our Restaurant Consultant, Michael Carrier and Ben Fisher, owners of Alpenglow Construction, Ed