Meat is so 2018.
As more Americans try to eat healthy and ethically, many fast-food chains are introducing meat-free alternatives. Burger King debuted its Impossible Whopper a few months ago, Dunkin' is testing a breakfast sandwich using Beyond Sausage in New York City, and Taco Bell has revealed how to eat vegan at its restaurants.
Now, Miami Grill (formerly Miami Subs) is getting in on the action. The South Florida-based chain that boasts Armando Christian “Pitbull” Pérez as its key equity partner is rolling out its Beyond Burger. The kosher patty is free of meat, dairy, soy, and GMOs and contains 20 grams of plant-derived protein.
Jonathan H. Vogel, chief operating officer of Miami Grill, says the Beyond Burger was originally tested at one location and received such positive feedback that the company decided to accelerate the rollout of the sandwich. "We tried the burger at a corporate-owned-and-operated restaurant without any outside advertising. Within the first day, we found we had a tiger by the tail here and that this burger launch was going to be bigger and faster than we planned."
Almost immediately, the decision was made to offer the Beyond Burger at other Miami Grill outposts. Currently, it's available in Broward County on the corner of Commercial Boulevard and Powerline Road in Fort Lauderdale, U.S. 441 and Broward Boulevard in Plantation, University Drive just south of Commercial Boulevard in Lauderhill, and Jog Road and Melaleuca Lane in Greenacres.
Next week, six to eight other Broward locations — in Dania Beach, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach, and West Park — will offer the Beyond Burger.
Within two weeks, Miami-Dade County will get its first taste of the Beyond Burger when the sandwich goes to Miami Springs and Cutler Bay.
The reason for the slow rollout? "We're waiting for merchandising and signage. We want this product out," Vogel says. Technically, the burger is offered only for a limited time, but Vogel says that as long as it remains popular, Miami Grill will continue to offer it.
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The Beyond Burger, by the way, is presented like a regular Miami Grill burger — on a bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and a choice of sauce. The vegan burger costs about $7.49 and can be customized. Some sauces — such as the chain's special South Beach sauce — are not vegan, so customers should ask if they have any questions about the condiments. There will also be no dedicated grill for the Beyond Burgers, so the patties might come in contact with animal products, something for which Burger King has recently gotten flak.
But Vogel says the restaurant's Beyond Burger isn't being marketed strictly for people on plant-based diets. "When you talk about this burger, you may think the main customer is vegan, but believe it or not, we're actually seeing more nonvegans asking for it. This is a product that, in my opinion, is more of a mainstream product." The restaurant executive explains that the sandwich is popular with people who simply want to cut down on their animal product consumption. "Part of the success is the taste and texture. I've been in the food business for 30 years and, by far, this is the best product going out."
The most important question, of course, is whether Pitbull has tried a Beyond Burger and whether he approves of it. Says Vogel: "I have yet to speak to Pitbull, so I'm not sure." Miami will just have to wait to see if Mr. 305 goes plant-based.