Hero Certified Burgers
Where ‘Sustainable’ is the Name of the Game
Hero Certified Burgers represents the first Canadian franchise that focuses on providing traditional North American feast using food products that come from sustainable sources. The company adheres to its commitment to respect the environment and support sustainable agriculture and other industries. While offering classic burgers, the company uses 100 per cent Angus beef produced by a small group of 14 ranchers in Western Canada, and also offers healthier alternatives such as chicken, salmon, and even vegetarian burgers and sandwiches. While the company has been in business for less than a decade, it took the Toronto fast food scene by storm, and today offers patrons 35 locations to choose from, and plans to open additional 10 locations by the end of 2012, and expand further across Greater Toronto Area, and Ontario.
John Lettieri, President of the Hero Certified Burgers, has built his career working in the food service industry, as Lettieri family has been in food industry for almost 50 years, starting in cheese production, and Lettieri Espresso Bar and Café chain, offering rich, full-bodied European style coffees. While Lettieri name represents a staple in Toronto food scene, John Lettieri represents the moving force and the vision behind Hero Certified Burgers—from the idea to use products from sustainable sources, through management, all the way down to clean, refreshing and casual restaurant design, and original menu.
“We started off Hero Certified Burgers with real certified beef, and a slice of real cheese, and we saw that there was a market for clean and traceable product. We have built relationships with ranchers in Western Canada who grow cattle without animal by-products or growth hormones. Our ranchers have just won the 2012 Canadian National Environmental Stewardship Award [TESA]. TESA is a national award that recognizes excellence and sustainable management and conservation practices. These are unique to our ranchers and Hero Certified Burgers.”
Hero Certified Burgers use 100 per cent Heritage Angus Beef. Heritage Angus Beef raises cattle in a sustainable environment with care for both the livestock and the land. Heritage Angus Beef has been raised in a free range environment, eliminating animal by-products from the animal feed, growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics, and the meat does not contain additives or preservatives.
While Hero Certified Burgers offer a uniquely sourced feast and an original menu, consumer may expect a much higher price in comparison to the traditional fast food restaurant, however, the price for a single, four ounce Hero burger stands at $4.99. “With the quality and the environment we provide, we offer a fair price to the customers.”
To the question “What are the main challenges,” Lettieri answered “The main challenges are in the education. While there are many companies that make the claims such as their product being from sustainable sources, no-antibiotics, gluten-free, and so on, we are the only ones who provide a direct link to the source—the ranchers that our customers can actually call up, and talk to them. It’s about transparency and real good food.”
Hero Certified Burgers also offers Wild Alaskan Salmon Fillet—not a salmon burger, but a piece of real fish. The menu also offers 100 per cent vegetarian Soul Burger, a Turkey Burger, and a Grilled Chicken Breast. Hero Burgers’ fries are never frozen, and offering cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Brie or Chilli White Cheddar surpass any fast food offering. The Hero toppings, such as Hellmann’s ½ the fat mayonnaise made with free range eggs, received the utmost attention during the selection process, and had been all handpicked amongst many products currently available in the market.
Besides quality ingredients, as a food Artisan, Lettieri does not pass an opportunity to explore new food ideas, even traveling around the world to explore different cuisines to find inspiration for the next creative dish that would complement the Hero’s current menu. With his experience, more and more good food from sustainable sources is coming to Hero’s. Lettieri said, “Our culture at Hero Burgers is all about food—about real food and good food delivered in comfortable environment.”
While the number of franchise locations continues to grow, the company continues to explore new ways to engage customers, and the company will launch its first food truck into the streets of Toronto. “We will be able to deliver Hero Certified Burgers offering to the streets and offices across the city. Our truck is not a shortcut, and will offer our full menu. We understand the needs of the consumer and we want to be able to deliver this food to everybody.”
And what does the future holds for the Hero Certified Burgers? The plan is simple—grow the number of locations in Greater Toronto Area, entice more customers, and expand further in Ontario, while working to bring more good quality food to the Canadians by enriching the Hero Certified Burgers menu.