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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Elevation Burger franchise opening on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


Elevation Burger is opening in the Chalmers Place shopping center at 3365 Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor.

Joseph Tobianski |

A Virginia-based burger franchise with a commitment to organic and sustainable products is coming to Ann Arbor this summer.

Franchisee Mike Tayter signed a lease to open Elevation Burger in a 2,800-square-foot space in the Chalmers Place shopping center at 3365 Washtenaw Ave.

“(My wife and I) both graduated from the University of Michigan. We love Ann Arbor and we’re happy to be back,” Tayter said

“One thing we loved about the (Elevation Burger) concept is we’re really showing that fast food doesn’t have to be greasy and it doesn’t have to be bad for you,” he continued.

With 35 existing restaurants, Elevation Burger uses 100 percent organic, grass-fed, free-range beef that is ground at the restaurants, according to its website.

Other menu items include hand-cut French fries made with olive oil, a vegan burger, a vegetarian burger, grilled cheese, a salad, and hand-dipped milkshakes. Toppings include organic bacon and aged, unprocessed cheddar cheese. Tayter said the French fries are gluten-free and burgers can be wrapped in lettuce.

“When you eat one of these hamburgers, it tastes like a hamburger should taste,” he said.

Tayter said a full meal for adults will be in the $10 range. A single burger with cheese will cost about $4, while a double burger with double cheese will cost about $6.

“It’s all made-to-order,” he said. “Our beef comes from a collection of family farms…it’s something that is very important to us.” He also will source as much local produce as possible.

After getting his MBA from U-M and working in the corporate world, Tayter still had the entrepreneurial itch, he said. It was when he discovered Elevation Burger in Texas with his wife, Sarah, that Tayter made the leap into the restaurant business.

“We were frequent diners there,” he said. “It seemed like the perfect fit for us.”

Tayter purchased the rights to open three Elevation Burger restaurants in Michigan, and he hopes to open a second Ann Arbor location near U-M’s campus in the next couple years. Currently, there are no Elevation Burger restaurants in the state.

“We’ve been looking for real estate since February of last year,” Tayter said. “It’s not easy to find quality real estate…I really like the Washtenaw corridor.”

Tayter was represented by Colliers International Ann Arbor.

The restaurant on Washtenaw Avenue will have seating for 60 to 70 people and possibly an outdoor patio. Tayter said he plans to start hiring in the next couple months and hopes to open the restaurant in July.

The restaurant will be built with renewable materials like bamboo flooring and compressed sorghum tabletops.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

So excited for this! I'm hoping they'll honor my Elevation Burger punch card from Texas. I'm also wondering, will you be using Blue Bell ice cream for your shakes, or going with a local Michigan company?

Mike Tayter

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

Yes, we will honor them, but hopefully you don't have a whole stack. :) We will likely be using Blue Bell ice cream but will definitely explore opportunities to use a local Michigan company. Thank you for the suggestion.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

I live near Chalmers Place and it's good that they're filling the vacancies.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

If we have to have another burger joint around here, I approve this one! I wish they were all like this!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

This looks like a place I can eat. I avoid commercial/conventional beef, which I why I avoid what should be a tasty place like 5Guys Burger. Of course I stay far away from McDonald's though I live across the street from one. By the way, Elevation Burger will be right by a McDonald's on Washtenaw Avenue. Very interesting.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:27 a.m.

Hamburger loving environmentalists eat up!

Paul Wiener

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

Love those sustainable burgers and fries - the ones that keep coming back up on you, so you can eat them again and again!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

I think this is a great idea. I love the idea of fast food. I hate that the fast food choices are so unhealthy and trust me I'm not a fit person. I have been in that shopping center about a dozen times. Parking will be a challenge for sure, but, it is surprisingly easy to get out of that lot even on a left turn. I am guessing if the Vitamin store there is doing well, so will Elevation Burger. Best of luck to the Tayters

Mike Tayter

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Thank you so much for the kind words. We think it will be a great location as well. We look forward to seeing you at the restaurant!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

What this area does not need more of is expensive restaurants and especially another burger joint. IMO Won't see me there at all. I can get a nice burger from our local mom and pop down the road. Support local not foreign.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

I didn't know Virginia is foreign.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

It's nice to have an option that you know won't be Pink Slime. Speaking of Pink Slime, which restaurants have a written policy not to use it? Not many.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

Could someone with functioning brain cells explain to me how raising a cow from a calf, killing it and then cutting it up and grinding it into hamburger is sustainable? I'm not a vegan or PETA person and love a good greasy burger and think Krazy Jim's is wonderful. Especially a triple cheese on an onion roll. How about knocking off the sustainable and organic and natural nonsense and admit that it's just a good old burger joint?

buvda fray

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

Sounds like a tree hugger's dream menu. I hope the burgers from the coddled cows will be seared over smoldering logs formed from sun dried organic guano collected by gender-nonspecific unionized co-op volunteers.

buvda fray

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

Boo Radley you make an excellent point: beef burgers are evil. Vegan burger sounds less objectionable, although there may be some publicly funded research going on at u of m that proves vegetables feel pain. Maybe if the vegetables are blindfolded and bathed in a topical anesthetic before being led to the slaughter it could approach a degree of painlessness that we could all be comfortable with.

Boo Radley

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:35 a.m.

Somehow I really can't see beef burgers on a tree huggers dream menu ... other than that, I'm with you.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

"..... doesn`t have to be greasy and bad for you...." Sounds disgusting and tasteless. Won`t be dining there.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

Unfortunately, that is one of the worst driveways to exit onto Washtenaw Ave, especially eastbound. Plus, the parking is sub-par thanks to the Ann Arbor Planning Commission putting the kibosh on a parking lot expansion.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Wake me up when we get an In-N-Out.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

I'll settle for a Shake Shack

Ben Freed

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

Sounds tasty to me. Thought I'm not sure how a meal comes out to $10 if a single burger is only $4... in any case, can't wait to try it out.

Boo Radley

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

So .... even a double is under the 1/2 pound mark. I'm beginning to think this probably isn't the place for me.

Mike Tayter

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

Thanks Ben! The average price of a meal will of course vary from person to person, but many adults prefer the double burger (6.4 ounces of beef). That is our signature burger and is called the Elevation Burger.

Boo Radley

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Add fries and a drink and you are probably right up to the $10 mark. Most restaurants pay the bills with the mark up on soft drinks. tea and coffee.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

What happened to the parking lot they were going to build on the back of that shopping mall? I do remember an article about purchasing the neighboring house and tear it down to make an auxiliary lot for more parking. It's impossible to get a space in that lot, and the mall is half empty.

Georgetown Dad

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

This is all fine and dandy, but I'm way more concerned about the future location of Blimpy Burger!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

@johnny - ann arbor called and it wants its "a2" back Yes, my post will be removed but it's the truth.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

Unless something has changed, Blimpy burger grinds their meat at least once a day. I recall that their burger comes from Knights, but I could be mistaken on that. Also, I don't know if the grind is fresh ground, or re-ground, etc. What I can say is the Blimpy Burgers are excellent, not horrible.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

yeah, you worrying about a place that serves horrible greasy burgers and buys his meat fromt he cheapest source is equal to a new business trying to serve quality food. Blimpies is an over rated White Castle

Mike Tayter

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:25 p.m.

Thanks, Lizzy! Great write up. And thanks to everyone for their positive comments. Please note, our vegetarian and vegan friends are welcome too. We have two different vegetarian burgers - one of which is completely vegan. Both are delicious. Other vegan options include our fries, Elevation Salad, side salad and mandarin orange cup. If you're interested in following our progress through design and construction towards grand opening, please visit our Facebook page:

Mike Tayter

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

@Sparty - Thank you for the suggestion. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised when you taste our cheddar cheese. It is 6-month aged unprocessed cheddar and adds an amazing flavor to the burger. That said, we will definitely consider your suggestion for future addition to the menu.

Mike Tayter

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

@roadsidedinerlover - Great point. Yes, our vegetarian patties are cooked in a separate oven so there is no cross-contamination. We look forward to seeing you in the restaurant!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 6:23 a.m.

Please add an American Cheese topping to the menu, cheddar alone doesn't work for many!


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2 a.m.

Mr. Tayter, A a vegetarian, I am happy you will have veggie burgers. But please do not be like Blimpy's and cook the veggie burger in a frying pan or grill that has left over meat juice in it. Please have pans/grill JUST for the veggie burgers...So there is no cross contamination! Thanks!


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

I totally agree with all of you on parking and getting in and out of that mall. I don't often go to the Vitamin Shoppe because of that.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

It might be a "healthier" burger but red meat, bacon, and cheese is unhealthy for you. Vegan is where it's at. Since becoming a Level 5 Vegan I've realized how much smarter and self assured you can be when making this lifestyle change. Trust me, I'm an L5.

Britain W.

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

I wish I could click "up" a few more times to offset the haterz™, though apparently not even a Level 5 stands a chance against Scott Pilgrim.


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Funny comment smoke I get your satire :)


Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

@johnny: That pretty much leaves dirt and earthworms. Yummy.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

JohnnyA2....I'm taking that's sarcasm ( never seen a plant that didn't cast a shadow )


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:57 p.m.

People really need to learn sarcasm. Level 5 vegan refers to a person who does nto eat anything that casts a shadow.

John of Saline

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

I hope you're being facetious, smokeblwr, because you sound like a food Scientologist.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:10 p.m.

More self assured maybe.Smarter? I don't think so and what the heck is a L5 ? is that a video game level or something ?


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

I loves me some tasty red meat, bacon and cheese.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

I've said it before and I'll say it again....Please come to Dexter. We need you here in the land of unlimited pizza and unhealthy food. I fully expect the town to adopt a pizza as it's mascot any day. Glad to see someone in the restaurant business is waking up to the fact that some of us want grass fed, beef and organic food. Healthy food tastes great!

above average

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

The best part of reading is always reading the comments. Yes along with the mascot maybe Dexter can apply for a new name: Dexterzza. Good thing for Ann Arbor and all the young restrapenuers.

Rob MI

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Seating for 60 to 70? There's not even 80 spaces in the parking lot, and it will have to compete with existing businesses (only one of which would seem to cater to visits of less than 10 minutes--namely Jimmy John's) for spots. Eeks.

Rob MI

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

Parking across the street at Chipotle, etc. is FAR superior. If that lot--small as it is--happens to be full, you have a great deal of other parking immediately available along that "service drive" immediately in front of the building. The Chalmers Place has no such option at all. You make the assumption of 2 per car for a total of 70 customers at Elevation. I will go and say that number is far too high. I'd go with 1.25 per car--if that (or, if you like whole numbers, 5 people in 4 cars)--especially later in the day. Parking along that entire stretch--except for Arborland and the strip along the south side of Wasthenaw from, say, Huron Parkway to Pittsfield St. is nothing less than horrific and Chalmers Place, the Whole Foods/Barnes and Noble fiasco, the new development do NOTHING but make that impression--and the traffic in the area--worse with each passing year.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Rob, How would you rate the parking across the street at Chipotle? They seem to do quite well with a Kinkos and Coffee shop in the same plaza. I will also point out that most people do not drive to restaurants alone So if it seats 70 people (which would be at capacity) , they may need 35 spots. The times when most restaurants need that much space would be in the evening when many of the other businesses are slower. Panera and Whole foods seem to do ok in a HORRIBLE parking lot as well

Rob MI

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

This has nothing to do with Jimmy John's and everything to do with how spaces in the parking area are utilized.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

Some of us don't want the stuff they call food at Jimmy John's.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

I was going to make the same comment about the lack of parking in that shopping center, as well as the difficulty in getting into and out of the parking lot there.

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

A2GastroBoy is a trusted source and this place sounds very promising. Keep us posted as the opening date gets dialed in.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

I have watched so many businesses come and go in that area over the years.Remember Mr. S hamburgers? Scotty's hamburgers? Burger Chef? None of them has survived. I think anorganic burger place would have a much better chance at surviving downtown. I wish the entrepreneurs luck but they're going to have a tough time meeting their sales goals.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:33 p.m.

Loved Burger Chef


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Ah Burger Chef!! Fond memories of going to that place on Stadium near Kmart (most recently a chinese place that burned down). They had the best kids toys in the 70's! I seem to remember my parents liking the free toppings bar...


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Be sure to find out if this couple has children before ordering the tayter tots.


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:06 p.m.

Thanks Tiny.....I needed a good chuckle today

Mike Tayter

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

Yes, we have two daughters: Emma (age 3.5) and Hannah (age 1). But don't worry - no Tayter Tots on the menu!

Chester Drawers

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

Good one, Tiny!

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

A2GastroBoy wrote about Elevation Burger in 2011: