Elevation Burger, the organic burger chain, has made strides under the leadership of its new CEO, Rick Altizer, in his first five months at the helm. Since the former McDonald’s executive came on board in late March of this year, Elevation Burger has announced plans to continue growing its domestic and international footprint, as well as the imminent rollout of several exciting new products, marking the first time the company has expanded its menu in five years.

Five new domestic and three international openings to date in 2014 bring the current roster to 47 Elevation Burger locations. Six more locations are scheduled to open by year’s end, bringing the total number of Elevation Burger locations to 53, a number Altizer considers an important step in the company’s growth.

“From the moment I was introduced to it, I felt very strongly that our founder, Hans Hess, had built Elevation Burger into a great brand and a great business opportunity,” Altizer says. “Reaching the 50-store benchmark takes us into the next stage of the company’s growth, and we are getting very positive feedback from our current and prospective franchisees, employees, investors and loyal guests.”

Altizer added that the company is looking to expand significantly in both U.S. and international markets in 2015 and beyond.

While Elevation Burger fans can expect to see the core menu remain the same, some new offerings will be making a limited-time appearance over the next several months and, based on initial guest response, may become fixtures. The franchise recently revealed plans to expand its menu for the first time in five years. The newest menu item, the Barbecue Bacon Cheddar Burger, officially launched in stores across the U.S. on August 1. The burger features two organic, grass-fed, free-range beef patties; melted, aged, unprocessed Cheddar cheese; organic bacon; caramelized onions; and Simply Heinz Barbecue sauce. Altizer says guest response to the burger to date has been outstanding. Several other new menu items are scheduled to be announced in the near future.

“Our guests are telling us they love this new and unique burger offering,” Altizer says. “As we continue to grow as a company, we’re talking with our fans about bringing other exciting new additions to the menu—this is the first of many.”

In order to be best positioned for the next phase of growth, Elevation Burger has beefed up its executive team with the addition of several new faces. Among the new hires is Thomas Grant, vice president of operations. A 30-year industry veteran, Grant’s previous experience includes executive-level operations positions with Burger King and Arby’s. On the marketing side, Jay Wisse has been brought in as vice president of marketing. Wisse, a former executive with the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association, brings more than 25 years of marketing experience to this position. Kristin Wood, CPA, formerly with Baker Tilley Virchow Krause has joined the team as controller.

Elevation Burger founder Hans Hess remains at the helm of the franchise’s new board of directors, which also includes Reid Mills, chairman and CEO of Miles Howland & Co., and Salman Siddiqui of Interlinked, formerly an executive at Dunkin’ Brands and Yum! Brands.

“Current franchisees are thrilled with the momentum and prospective franchisees are starting to take a keen interest in the Elevation Burger brand,” Hess says. “We are excited to continue pursuing growth opportunities and making positive improvements for the future.”


Burgers, Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Fast Casual, Growth, News, Operations, Elevation Burger