Note: After this was posted 1 p.m. Monday, May 23, officials at Elevation Burger said in an email that they would not be able to open the Germantown chain Saturday, as planned. The chain is expected to open by "the end of next week," said James Stewart, the company's Creative Fund and Brand Manager.
(UPDATED 2:41 p.m.) Elevation Burger is bringing its eco-friendly beef to Germantown.
The latest chain in the Virginia-based franchise will host a grand opening at Germantown Town Center after Memorial Day weekend.
“Everybody loves burgers. It’s very near and dear to people’s hearts,” Elevation Burger founder and CEO Hans Hess tells Patch. “But I’m an innovator. I try to take something and make it better.”
Making the burger better, under Hess’s definition, means using free-range, grass-fed, organic beef that was ground up at burger joint that morning — Hess would not comment as to whether or not the beef came from local cows. The fries are made from hand-cut potatoes and are deep fried in olive oil. Hess says most Elevation franchises are LEED-certified and that franchise owners are encouraged to purchase Clean Energy Offset Credits.
But should the meat's origins make consumers feel less guilty about eating Elevation’s 10-patty Vertigo Burger?
“Guilt is a subjective topic,” Hess says, laughing.
OK. So, it depends on how you define guilty. But truly, that Vertigo Burger seems more like a novelty when compared against the rest of the menu. The signature item, The Elevation Burger, is essentially a double cheeseburger you can customize with the usual suspects — ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato. There are also burgers wrapped in lettuce and “burgers” for vegans.
You assemble your meal by picking items from each category: burger, drinks and sides (fries, cookies, salad or oranges), shake and malts.
The Germantown location will be No. 18 for the chain, Hess said. But unlike the others, Germantown will offer a $5.99 burger called the Thick and Rare — a cubby burger cooked medium rare — and will be a prototype for a new griddle system.
The first Elevation Burger opened in Falls Church, Va., in 2005, and as Elevation’s popularity grew, Hess says he took cues from fellow Virginian, Five Guys founder Dan Rowe, and turned Elevation Burger into a franchise in 2008. You can find an Elevation Burger in seven states (it's coming to California, Nevada, Main and Connecticut), in Kuwait and, soon, in Bahrain.
But what about timing?
Especially when everybody is trying to reinvent the burger. Fast food chefs have careened toward decadence, placing bloated mega-burgers and sandwiches with fried chicken patties instead of buns on their menus. Hess seems to think there is room for ethical eating in an already crowded burger business.
After all, Hess says, socially conscious eaters share the broader concerns of all burger buyers: “Does it taste good?”