After closing at Westside Provisions District last April for renovations, Yeah Burger finally reopens Wednesday, November 17, debuting its much-hyped “100% plant-based” menu. According to Instagram, the first 200 people in line during the reopening will receive a free vegan burger.
In a twist that caught many of the organic burger joint’s loyal regulars by surprise, owners Erik Maier and Kelly Wallace announced in August plans to pivot Yeah Burger to a 100-percent, non-GMO menu free of any animal products. While some appeared excited about the shift away from meat and animal proteins, citing the detrimental environmental impacts of large-scale cattle farming on the climate, others vowed not to return once Yeah Burger reopened, lamenting losing their “favorite” burger in Atlanta. Maier told Eater at the time of the announcement, he and Wallace were revamping the menu with omnivores and flexitarians in mind.
“Traditional monoculture farming and animal agriculture are causing the desertification of vast parts of our planet, and there isn’t enough land to support current meat consumption via pasture-raised methods, so something has to change,” Maier said in August of retooling the menu. “We want to be part of that change and believe it is our responsibility to adapt the business to better serve our mission with food that’s healthier for our environment, and our customers.”
Companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat tout “saving the planet” by selling meat alternatives made from plants, claiming to replicate the texture, flavor, and even “bleed” like real beef.
In addition to Beyond Meat beef patties and brats and vegan hot dogs, Yeah Burger will continue serving its burger patties made from vegetables and walnuts and gluten-free items, including the popular onion rings, fries, and Brussels sprouts. Yeah Burger now features an all-day breakfast section with sandwiches and burritos as well as Beyond chicken tenders, a selection of salads, and sandwiches, such as a meatball sub, a fish filet, and TLT with tempeh strips.
Stephan van Vliet, a postdoctoral researcher at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, who led a health-related comparative lab analysis between plant-based and animal-based proteins, says findings from the study indicate one isn’t healthier than the other. He cautions people in assuming these proteins are “nutritionally interchangeable,” but rather to see plant and animal proteins as “complementary, because they provide different nutrients.”
Maier and Wallace, who also own grain bowl and smoothie restaurant Upbeet at the neighboring Iron Works complex, first opened Yeah Burger at Westside Provisions District in 2010, serving organic turkey, grass-fed beef, and vegetarian burgers. The restaurant included several dedicated gluten-free and other allergen-free options on the menu. The pair later opened an outpost of Yeah Burger in Virginia-Highland, which they closed last summer after nearly a decade there. Farm Burger, another Atlanta-based organic burger chain, opened in the space earlier this year.
Eater reached out Tuesday morning for comment and more details on the reopening of Yeah Burger.
Take a look at the new menu: