LJ World By Sara Shepherd
July 8, 2013
Lawrence diners can’t get the World’s Best Veggie Burger or an Adzuki Bean Burger with a basket of fries at Local Burger anymore. Does that mean the vegetarian favorites from the shuttered Vermont Street eatery are gone for good? Hardly. Check the freezers in grocery stores nationwide and you’ll spot those Lawrence-made patties flying off the shelves. A year after closing her restaurant to focus full-time on retail manufacturing, Hilary Brown’s veggie burger business is booming.
Hilary’s Eat Well products are now in close to 1,700 stores, and company officials say recent weeks have been their biggest yet — with production at 84,000 burgers a week. The company has moved from its first manufacturing spot into a new 9,000-square-foot facility at 2205 Haskell Ave., where production got underway about a month ago. Pausing during a morning of veggie-burger making, packaging and truck-loading at the new plant, production manager Derick Alexander put things in perspective. “The entire old building could probably fit in our freezer,” he said. But Alexander said he isn’t surprised by the company’s fast growth. “Hilary’s passion toward her product is crazy,” he said. “She can get anyone to eat it, even if they don’t like veggies.”