A while back I was invited to a quick meet & greet with Elevation Burger‘s CEO Hans Hess. I was not able to make it on the day, so the very nice people at Elevation invited me to come the very next day for a casual quick chit chat with him, thank you Ali Ashkanani 😉 Well.. Mr. Hans is a super cool guy and very down to earth! He was smiling all the time I was there and was happy to answer my questions! He explained to me the difference between a regular burger and an elevation burger! He said most of the cows out there are fed corn or soy (grains) which may affect those cows because their stomach is not designed to digest grain. In return those cows are given antibiotic to prevent them from getting sick… now when you eat that meat, you get a little bit of this antibiotic and consequently build a resistance to it which is really alarming when it comes to our health and lifestyle! Compare this to grass fed cows! There is much more nutritional value here – meaning, you wont feel bad because you are eating a cow that is fed on grass, just the way it was meant to be raised 😉
Ansam: Now tell me, was Kuwait’s branch the very first one opened outside the United States?
Hans: Yes! The very first international store right here!!
Ansam: Tell me about the “Halal” meat you serve at Elevation Burger in Kuwait? How did you manage to make this possible?
Hans: Well, we’re very fortunate because when we first started the slaughter houses we happen to be working with were Halal. So basically what happen was we kept working with them (because in the United States it doesn’t really matter how the cow meat is prepared) because we liked how those slaughter houses did business, and they’re very clean – basically really good slaughter houses and we kept on with that and it’s been Halal ever since and it stayed that way. When Ali approached us few years ago… I dont know how long it’s been?
Ali: Yeah… that was one of the concerns
Hans: When we first went into business together I was able to say to him that it is not an issue, its Halal!
Ali: I was like okay.. because it was one of the biggest issues really. Any meat that comes to Kuwait and goes through customs must be presented with a Halal certificate. I was happy to know from Hans that all the meat they get is Halal, even though in the beginning I thought he did not understand my question Hahahaha!!
Hans: WHAT? Hahahahaha… I do remember answering that question a couple of times
Ali: Yeah I kept asking and asking… I even asked the Operation Manager, and they all answered me with “Yeah no problem, it is all Halal!”
Hans: And what you couldn’t believe it?
Ali: At first I didn’t know
Hans: Well I was a little bit.. you know at the very first when I heard about this person wanting to visit me named Ali, I said Kuwait??? Really? I was like it cannot hold more than one or two stores!! That was my first reaction – Kuwait hmm it’s not that big right? Then he came by and I talked to him and asked how many stores do you think Kuwait can hold because its a small country… I asked so many questions about Kuwait and how many people live there and all… I asked about the market and what its like just to be able to scale all this out, because if we really wanna go to a new place, we want to have more than one branch you know with the amount of work involved and all! But Ali did explain all that very well
Ansam: And how much Kuwaitis LOVE burgers 😛
Hans: Yeah… and what I really didn’t understand, but came to understand later after talking to Ali and others was how receptive is the Middle East to American brands. In America people tend to believe what they hear and what other people tell them and see in the media, and its not always positive… but really now that I know and visited Kuwait, I feel very at home here. Its very familiar in one way and I like it – I’m immediately comfortable coming here now 🙂 I like how Elevation Burger is written in Arabic too on those banners (pointing at the banners outside the restaurant)
Ansam: Tell me about the logo
Hans: I think it is very distinctive! That logo was designed in Kuala Lumpur. The guy who designed it initially showed me a logo done for someone else selling tea, which gave me the idea for our logo
Ansam: Correct me if I’m wrong but its basically a sun with sun rays and two mountains
Hans: Yes!! That’s right
Ansam: Now tell me, how do you like to have your burger at Elevation Burger? Your fries too?? Describe your meal
Hans: The Elevation Burger with caramelized onions, pickles, ketchup, and Elevation sauce – those are the four topics I put on. I have it with normal fries usually but I might have fancy fries every now and…. we’re gonna eat now right?
Everyone burst into laughter….
Hans: So tell me, do you do blogging FULL TIME?
Ansam: Not really, but its related to what I do in my real job at the moment, after working in investment services and then telecom… now I work in social media field
Ali (jokingly): No no she IS a full time blogger 😛 She quit her job to blog 😛 (Ali and I used to work together four years ago so he was just teasing me about it)
Hans: Its very nice to do the things you love! That’s cool! One question, does everyone here in Kuwait have two phones?? 😛
I really enjoyed my time with Elevation Burger team that day! Lots of things to talk about (on and off the record 😛 ) I really love it there, and now that I have seen some the faces behind the scenes I like it more! Too bad I haven’t taken any picture with Hans and Ali 😛
For more on Elevation Burger Kuwait, you can follow them on twitter @ElevationKW