What’s the buzz around Los Angeles? It’s that Honeybee Burger is trying to save the world with one vegan burger at a time. The humble burger joint first opened their yellow color doors last May — showing Angelenos a better way to eating plant-based burgers. Founder, Adam Weiss, started to notice that there was a huge demand for companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat — whose mission was “to save the world with one burger at a time” was not just worthy and noble, but no one was doing it.
“We thought wow, we can change the world a little bit by selling [vegan] cheeseburgers to people who otherwise might eat animals and by doing so, [we] might save the world, [along with] some water, some greenhouse gas, so that’s what got us going and our goal to reach out to, what we refer to, the decision-makers of tomorrow: kids, young families, and millennials. So, we designed the whole look and feel of everything embrace women, young families, kids, hence the name look, the use of the logo,” Weiss said.
When it came to naming their vegan hive, no one liked the name Honeybee, at first — it seemed weird, “insect-y,” and honey isn’t vegan. However, if you do some research you come to realize the importance of the honeybee is, such as being responsible for pollinating 2/3 bites of the food you take in a daily bases.
“So, we thought she’s cute, iconic and by the way, she’s really important to the world — she’s a symbol of nature, agriculture, and the environment — so, what other names could you think of that embraces all things at once? [Honeybee]. And makes a really cute sticker,” Weiss describes.
When it came to opening the first location in Los Feliz, Weiss knew the market was very open to vegan and plant-based food, and thought maybe it would be open to a different version, which meant less grain, less crunchy, less nuts and beans and more of the vegan products of tomorrow: Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Just Egg, Violife Foods, Very Premium, and Atlas Monroe Fried Chicken. And the community has embraced them for this.
“We don’t want people thinking ‘we’re just a burger joint’ and because of the mission and our focus on next-level ingredients, like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Atlas, Monroe Fried Chicken and more to come, it’s expensive and yes, we can make rice and bean patties and sell them for five or six bucks, but we’re premium product and we want people to understand it’s not for profit. We want to serve what’s great, what’s new and interesting. I just want people to understand that’s a commitment and as a result, and I think they’ll understand our prices to support that mission,” Weiss said.
A few months before Honeybee Burgers had their first anniversary and right before the pandemic hit, Honeybee opened their second location at The Colony, in Santa Monica. The Colony is a virtual kitchen or known as a smart kitchen, it’s where 25 restaurants are operating in the back preparing to-go orders and when things get back to normal, there’s even a dine-in area.
As I walked up to the hive in Los Feliz, I noticed the color theme throughout the store: white, black, and yellow. Since the inside is closed due to COVID-19, customers can only order or pick up from the delivery storefront window, but just by standing outside and waiting for your order — they will understand what Honeybee Burgers is and their mission. Above the main window reads, “PLANT-BASED BURGERS” with little bees buzzing out of the words, a hand-painted sign on the side of the window: “NO COW ALL WOW” and lastly, right next to the door is a cute little letter from Mother Earth.
Before I decided what I was going to order, I asked Weiss if someone was going to try Honeybee Burgers for the first time — what should they get? Instead of giving me an item off the menu, he broke it down on how to decide what patty to order. Many people still have not heard of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods and usually don’t know which one to pick or what the difference is.
“The first thing they would ask is which [patty] do you like better? As time has gone on, our regular customers begin to understand, but a lot of people still don’t know the difference. So, if they come in never having a plant-based burger before, we tell them you should get our classic Honeybee Burger with an Impossible patty — it’s going be the most meat-like and it looks like, feels and eats like a regular burger,” Weiss explained.
Each meal comes in their little to-go box, each lid is stamped with the Honeybee Burgers’ logo and once it’s open you see your food displayed out neatly. Each burger is wrapped perfectly in yellow and white checker print paper — the theme of the restaurant truly follows you home by the way they wrap up their food.
On my menu: Brekky Bee and the Happy Bee Combo Box
Brekky Bee with an Impossible Patty
This is probably one of the best breakfast sandwiches that I’ve ever had. Customers have the option to chose between an Impossible or Beyond Meat Patty or none at all with Just Egg, a layer of hash browns and Violife cheddar cheese, and red pepper sauce. First of all, the buns were fluffy and warm, within the first bite you can taste the spice from the red pepper sauce with the “meat” and melted cheese coming together, and then a tad crunch of the hash browns. All these flavors just melt perfectly together in your mouth. If you’re going to go to Honeybee Burgers — you need to try this one.
Happy Bee Combo Box with a Beyond Meat Patty, side of Mac and Cheese with a Strawberry Shake
This combo box is a great meal size for anyone. The box includes a slider, frots (fries and tater tots), fries, or upgrade for a side of Mac and cheese for $1, and for a drink, you can pick anything from their case or one of the delicious vegan shakes. Now, when ordering this meal, it’s important to remember the slider will be much small than the regular burger, however, you can still choose whichever patty you like and Inside the burger will be their homemade sauce, onion, tomato, pickles, etc. I decided to pick an Impossible patty with mine, the burger was filled with flavor in every bite — the sauces, tomato, lettuce, onion. Instead of doing a classic side, I had to try their Mac and cheese on the side — vegan Mac and cheese is one of my favorites. Honeybee makes theirs with carrots, potatoes, and secret ingredients, their sauce is creamy and flavorful, plus sprinkled with breadcrumbs. I added on one of their classic vegan shakes — strawberry. It comes in a 10oz cup, in my opinion, it’s a great size for the meal. The shake was fresh and creamy — you couldn’t even tell the difference from a regular strawberry shake to this one. Plus, a great way to wash down the combo with!
As Honeybee Burgers becomes more successful, Weiss is planning on expanding more, mostly focusing in Los Angeles, but are constantly getting phone calls from different landlords around SoCal that want them to join their projects, such as, Old Hollywood Park Grand Stadium and Santa Monica Boardwalk. Weiss mentions how it’s nice that people think they are doing something good and want them to be apart of their space. As the brand isn’t ready to franchised anytime soon, they want to make sure wherever they open a restaurant, they have trusted operational partners close by.
When it came to COVID guidelines for Los Angeles restaurants, some things didn’t change for Honeybee employees, such as wearing gloves, constantly cleaning the stations, but now just adding a mask. Honeybee Burgers does temperature checks for their employees — to make sure their employees are healthy and being safe.
“Along with looking for new locations, and if COVID-19 continues with strict guidelines, we want to make sure locations are very accommodated to delivery workers, such as, if you’re in a mall drivers can’t get to you. [We want to] focus on delivery and our safety habits, make sure our employees and customers know, we have sick leave, we care about them and be thoughtful,” Weiss said.
If you enjoy burgers and aren’t sure about how you feel about vegan, this is the place to try it. The burgers itself is filled with burger classics like lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles — plus more! You won’t even feel like you’re missing out on actual meat!