When Local Burger opened in 2005, owner Hilary Brown was out to prove fast food could be sourced from local farmers, and it didn’t have to be expensive or bad for you.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
At the restaurant at 714 Vermont St. in Lawrence, the menu includes locally raised elk, bison, turkey and pork burgers. But the World’s Best Veggie Burger and the Adzuki Bean Burger also won a loyal following, spurring Brown to create Hilary’s Eat Well, a separate natural foods line she launched last spring.
Both millet-based burgers are certified gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, yeast-free, egg-free and nut-free. Millet is not genetically engineered and is drought-resistant. “I chose millet for cost, health and environmental reasons,” Brown says. “I’m always trying to think about health systems.”
Stores in Lawrence were the first to offer the veggie burgers. They are available in some Hy-Vee locations in Kansas City. In May, all Whole Foods locations nationally will carry the line. “We’ve been picking up chains left and right, both natural and conventional, in all 50 states and Puerto Rico,” she says.
The creative headquarters of Drink Eat Well Inc., maker of Hilary’s Eat Well products, is housed in offices above Local Burger. The production facility is in east Lawrence.
A self-described creative type, Brown says her new business came with a steep learning curve. “Last year was one of the hardest years of my life,” she says. “It’s also been one of the greatest years of my life. I’m learning so much it’s mind blowing.”
To prepare the veggie burgers, remove them from the 100 percent biodegradable packaging and pop them into a toaster. They can also be grilled, cooked in the oven or in a stovetop skillet. Serving suggestions include eating the burgers in a salad (known as “burger salads” at the restaurant), in a wrap, on top of pasta or on a bun. More products are in the pipeline.
Go to hilaryseatwell.com or her Facebook and Twitter pages for specific stores. Suggested retail price is $3.69 for two.