A stroll through Union Square Park, on a summer day in the city, never ceases to amaze me. It’s always lively and action packed with people, pets, activities; it’s definitely a sight to see. On a late Sunday afternoon stroll through the park I stumbled upon a Vegan, Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO burger stand, NÜBurger, that happened to have one burger left just for me. Only in New York does this happen, am I right?

NÜBurger started a year and a half ago by two guys on a mission to make healthy vegan food accessible and affordable to the people of Manhattan. After both working full careers, in the restaurant and food industry, Joe and Dan, the co-founders, are ready to bring something of their own to NYC. Starting July 4th weekend, NuBurger will be debuting their delicious burgers at Smorgasburg! Before the big debut, here’s your chance to read up on the duo behind NÜBurger.

How did you get involved in the food industry?

My background in the restaurant industry started at a young age. My parents owned a restaurant/pub called the Deer Head Inn in West Nyack NY. My earliest childhood memories took place there. I think there’s even a photo floating around of me running down the bar in my diaper. Growing up, it was always a dream of mine to be a professional ball player and a restaurant owner and honestly, the Yankees aren’t calling me anytime soon! I most recently managed an organic vegan restaurant and wine bar, called V-Note, on the Upper East Side which is part of the Blossom family. Currently, all of my time and energy is focused on NÜBurger.

How do you and your partner, Dan Petrilli meet?

Fifteen years ago, I met Dan Petrilli at a restaurant in Pleasantville NY called Strega. Dan had just been hired as the Executive Chef and worked at renowned NYC establishments such as Gramercy Tavern and An American Place. I was attending Pace University and found a food running job to make some extra scratch for “books and such”. Dan and I hit it off immediately. He’s the hardest working chef I’ve ever worked with and he has taught, and continues to teach me the ins and outs of the business. Throughout the years, we remained in contact and when he sold his business in 2013 we discussed possibly starting a vegan fast food concept together. With Dan’s expertise and talents as a chef/owner and my knowledge and experience as a practicing vegan, we felt it would be a great opportunity to take what was just an idea and make it a reality. NÜBurger was eventually conceived and our mission’s to provide an all organic, gluten-free and plant based alternative to fast food that is not only healthful, but also affordable.

What do you think of the vegan community in New York?

I think it’s really awesome, but there’s still lots of room for growth. Five years ago, friends would give me a hard time about being vegan, but now people are more intrigued. I find most people to be more interested in trying new things and expanding their palates.

What’s the motivation behind creating NUBurger?

Dan and I both think this is a great opportunity for us and that it could be very successful. But really, we’re both just happy to finally be doing this and helping people through good and healthy food. Dan always says you can sell a bacon-grilled cheese and probably make a billion bucks, but would you feel good about it?

Do you think it’s especially hard starting a food business in New York? Why?

I think with any business there will be challenges and obstacles to get past. Specifically in New york, it’s a tough town. You have to be focused on your goals. Anything you try and launch will be difficult, but we truly believe we’re on to something with our unique concept. Something like this hasn’t really hit here yet, and I think that will really help us in the end. Just seeing that Veganism has become a trend proves there’s potential.

How long did it take to perfect the burger recipe?

Probably about 6 months or so. We looked into a lot of different varieties. We also stayed away from using faux meat alternatives and kept everything very fresh. We want to keep things simple, as well as be allergen friendly, especially for those who are gluten intolerant.

Can you share the recipe with our readers?

White beans and potatoes bind it together and it’s topped with pickles, onion, lettuce and a pomegranate cayenne mayo, vegan of course! And it comes on a gluten free bun.

What advice do you have for New Yorkers trying to live healthier lives?

I think it’s very important to know where your foods come from. Pay attention to what you’re putting into your body. And don’t worry about complicating everything. No you don’t have to be vegan, but try your best to eat a variety of local and organic foods. By being aware and conscious of what you’re eating everything else will fall into place.

Click her for more information on NÜBurger check out their website.

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About The Author

Healthy Eater

Southern girl at heart, minus the fried food. Fresh on the NY food scene, hungry for a healthy way to live in this food capital.