Soy meats world: Vegan burger joint opens Brooklyn outpost

Meatless chili: A vegan chlli dog served with crinkle cut french fries.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s time to veg out!

A vegan fast food joint from the West Coast will bring its plant-based burgers and soy milk shakes to Brooklyn at the end of this month. The owners of Next Level Burger, opening in Fort Greene on Jan. 31 as part of the new Whole Foods Market, say that opening in the borough of kings is a logical first step in their takeover of the East Coast, since Brooklyn is the trendsetter for the nation.

“The Big Apple has always been number one in the world as the city changed, and Brooklyn in particular is the epicenter of change, so it makes tremendous sense for us,” said Matthew de Gruyter, who runs the company with his wife Cierra.

He said that he is thrilled to open the store in the trendy Fort Greene nabe.

“The neighborhood is diverse, and there’s a lot of culture here,” he added.

De Gruyter said that his wife first explored a vegan diet — no meat, no cheese, no milk, no eggs — about a decade ago, and he joined her soon after. Creating Next Level Burger is a way to share the health benefits of a plant-based diet, he said.

“We started really looking into sharing this experience with the country,” said de Gruyter. “We wanted to build a reinvention of the American burger joint and give people options of fantastic food.”

The meat-free menu includes vegetable takes on hamburgers, hot dogs, and bacon, along with salads, fries, and milk shakes that feature soy or coconut milk.

De Gruyter said that he wants the menu to seem familiar to those who might be hesitant to try vegan dishes, with items like “The Sauce,” a sort of vegan version of the McDonald’s Big Mac.

“We wanted to make sure with Next Level, we offer all of those in a guilt-free package because we’re on a mission to help people eat healthier and have a better planet,” he said. “We have chili-cheese dogs, burgers, and fries and they are all 100 percent plant-based, made with healthy ingredients. After eat you it you can expect to feel healthier.”

For dedicated carnivores visiting for the first time, he recommends trying the sausage bacon burger.

“Hands down, the sausage bacon burger is the cat’s meow — I’ve probably eaten over 350 to 400 of them,” said de Gruyter. “It’s juicy and it’s satisfying, and our mission with that is making it analogous to a meat-like experience.”

The new Brooklyn spot, the sixth in the chain, will also feature a new item: the Fort Greene shake, a green milkshake made with kale.

“Next Level Burger” inside Whole Foods Market [292 Ashland Pl. at Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene.]. Opening Jan. 31.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at
Updated 5:50 pm, July 9, 2018
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