SEATTLE - Like most good ideas, this one came from Matt de Gruyter's wife with a nudge from his mom.
"We are America's first 100-percent plant-based burger joint," Matt said.
His wife Cierra had switched to a vegan diet just months before his mom was diagnosed with cancer.
"We only found out about a week before she actually passed," he said. "And her heart was what failed. So I was pretty open at that point."
Matt decided to go vegan for 30 days.
"[I would] see how I feel, right?" he remembered. "And within two weeks, I was sold."
So much so that he closed the venture capitalist chapter of his life and opened the first Next Level Burger in Bend, Ore. in 2014.
He and Cierra came up with the name in their kitchen.
"And I said it's the next generation, it's the evolution of the burger, it's the next level burger," he said. "And she's like, 'Oooh, I like that.' And I'm like 'You know what, I think I like that too!'"
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