It’s no exaggeration to say that fast-food giant McDonald’s inspired Daniel Magnus’s quest for the perfect burger. In December of 2009, the Rye resident, who had recently launched Magnus LLC, was looking to run and build a business. He was in the iconic yellow-and-red eatery with his three young children and a few other families watching the kids eat their Happy Meals. Suddenly, he turned to his friend and said, “Too bad there isn’t a quick-serve restaurant with food we all want to eat!”
By Melanie Cane
It’s no exaggeration to say that fast-food giant McDonald’s inspired Daniel Magnus’s quest for the perfect burger.
In December of 2009, the Rye resident, who had recently launched Magnus LLC, was looking to run and build a business. He was in the iconic yellow-and-red eatery with his three young children and a few other families watching the kids eat their Happy Meals. Suddenly, he turned to his friend and said, “Too bad there isn’t a quick-serve restaurant with food we all want to eat!”
The adults agreed unanimously, and for Mr. Magnus, it set the wheels in motion. He immediately began researching healthy burger restaurants, and was most impressed with what he found at elevationburger.com, a website for an organic hamburger chain.
Just a few days later and Mr. Magnus was on the highway, driving to New Jersey to visit the closest Elevation Burger. The trip was worth it. “One bite of a burger changed my life,” he said excitedly. The burger – 100% USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range, ground-on-premises beef – was the most delicious he had ever tasted.
Two weeks after what was a life-changing meal, Mr. Magnus headed to Arlington, Va., with his wife Danielle to meet with the franchisor and tour three of the company’s suburban D.C. restaurants. In less than 24 hours, on Christmas Eve, he signed letters of intent to open ten new franchise locations in Westchester and Fairfield counties.
The first of the restaurants opens September 28 in the space formerly occupied by Ray’s Café in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center. He gutted the entire store and installed renewable, non-pollutant building materials and surfaces in compliance with LEED-certified standards. With seating for 68, Mr. Magnus called the location “phenomenal” because of the co-tenants, terrific customers, and ample parking.
“Ingredients Matter” is the motto for Elevation Burger, as well as a reflection of the company’s focus on offering quality food that makes a difference to both the consumer and the environment. In addition to its organic beef, the restaurant also serves fresh-cut fries cooked in heart-healthy, 100% olive oil, as well as hand-scooped “transcendent” milkshakes made with antibiotic- and hormone-free milk, premium ice cream, and a selection of delicious mix-ins.
Elevation Burger offers a simple menu with multiple options, including a build-your-burger option and two vegetarian burgers, one of which is vegan. Burger lovers can also choose from a large variety of free, fresh toppings, and for those diners who eschew the potato bread roll, try their lettuce-wrapped burger. A classic Elevation Burger (two patties) costs an affordable $5.79, and it only takes between six-to-eight minutes before you’re chowing down. All food is cooked to order – there are no heat lamps.
To prepare for the business, Mr. Magnus and his staff spent a month training in Falls Church, Va. He said the four hours he spent behind the griddle on his first day of training was “the hardest day I’ve ever worked”. And he’s worked a lot.
After graduating from the University of Texas, he was in advertising sales with Esquire Magazine and on the business end of Harpers Bazaar and GQ. He was part of the start-up team for This Old House Magazine, which was bought by Time Inc. Then he worked for Bloomberg, helped turn The Robb Report around, and, as chief executive, is credited with legitimizing the Metro newspaper brand in the United States and creating the unprecedented turnaround of their once faltering business.
Mr. Magnus beams about his restaurant. “Our name is a reflection of our offerings and our standards. We’re elevating hamburgers, the environment in which we serve them, and the customer experience to a whole new level. Above all else, though, it’s about taste. Better ingredients make for better flavor. Our organic approach at Elevation Burger ensures a quality experience built on sustainability and a healthy future for our kids. As a parent, that means a lot to me.”
He added, “I have never loved a job more than this. I love the development aspect, thinking outside the box, and the enthusiasm of everyone I encounter, especially the Rye community.”
Elevation Burger will be open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.