The burgerfication of the nation® has found its way to Poughkeepsie. BurgerFi, the newest way for the Vassar student body to get off campus, has officially opened its doors to the public.
The burger is a quintessential American creation, but of late it has begun to be viewed as rather unhealthy. BurgerFi is an ecologically friendly twist on the American burger joint. According to Derrick De Lise, BurgerFi prides themselves on keeping their practices environmentally conscious .
De Lise is the general manager at BurgerFi who is proud of their lack of impact on the environment .
“We take great pains to reduce our carbon footprint in the local community, especially with Vassar College we thought that that would resonate.” Said De Lise.
According to BurgerFi’s website, everything from their food to their building to their furniture is environmentally aware. “BurgerFi store is built according to environmentally sustainable best practices,” their website states, “and includes earth-friendly elements, like chairs that are made from recycled Coke bottles, tables made out of compressed recycled wood, and large fans that use 66 percent less electricity. BurgerFi maintains a low carbon footprint, and maintains strict recycling programs for oil, cardboard, bottles and cans.”
BurgerFi came to Poughkeepsie partly due to the strong ties Anthony Kesselmark, the operating partner at BurgerFi, has to the area. “Born and raised. I was here ’til about five years ago. My father still lives two miles from here. Juliet theater, used to go see movies there. Back in the day, I used to play pool here when it was a pool hall,” Kesselmark said, “So it was real exciting when we actually had the opportunity to do this.”
The idea to bring a burger joint to Poughkeepsie was not in lieu of the desire for more diverse food options in his hometown, however. “It just kind of happened, honestly,” Kesselmark said. “We just went by, we saw the big for rent sign out there one day, and we met some BurgerFi corporate people in one day. And they’re like, what about that spot? And the lightbulb went off and they said ‘Yeah, that’d be awesome to be part of the community again.’”
The management at BurgerFi has workeed hard to create an all-around friendly atmosphere. When asked, De Lise said, “We hire anyone we think is qualified, would fit in, or anyone who we think we have space for.”
BurgerFi employs fifty members of the community, some of which are Vassar students.
De Lise continued, “We do have Vassar students working here, and honestly, they’re some of our best ones.”
Before their grand opening, BurgerFi even had a couple of days dedicated just to serving Vassar faculty. Kesselmar said, “Vassar wanted to do something nice for the faculty, so we did two friends and family days where the faculty came in and ate. It was just something that the college wanted to do for their staff.”
The franchise isn’t looking just to cater to the College, but they do hope to become caught up in and become a part of Vassar life.
“We want to engage the students, have them think of this as their place that they can hang out to enjoy.” Said De Lise.
He added, “We don’t want to exclude anyone, obviously. Its not strictly Vassar. You’ve got a couple thousand students across the street: We need to merge with you guys. I mean, we’re sharing a building with your college bookstore. The partnership is important to us.”
BurgerFi has done a lot to support the community, besides just offering jobs. Kesselmark said, “We get five produce deliveries a week, some of it’s local. We use regular companies; we try and go over there when they have the farmer’s market and use what we can over there, but we use local produce companies.”
While their meat comes from out of state, it is never frozen and kept fresh.
“Our meat comes from one farm, but it gets delivered to Cisco. Cisco drops it off to us three days a week,” Kesselmark said. “We use local produce when we can, as far as other stuff, all our meat comes from one ranch in Montana.”
As for future plans, BurgerFi is hoping to take the nation by storm. “The franchise group in the next four years is opening at least eleven of these,” De Lise said. There are no special plans about specific locations yet. De Lise said, “If they’re near colleges, great. Honestly they’re just looking at demographics and looking at location.”
BurgerFi is on its way to becoming an integral part of living in Poughkeepsie and living at Vassar. Kesselmark said, “Business has been great. The Poughkeepsie and the Vassar community, it has been really well received, and we’re happy to be here.”