Watkins is new to the food-service industry, but not to a vegan lifestyle. He was introduced to that when he moved to Los Angeles in 2012. “The lifestyle there is a lot different,” he said. By “dabbling in juicing and vegan life,” he lost some weight and found himself in better health. He’s been a proponent of plant-based eating ever since.
Good as Burgers has been in the works for a year, with Watkins conducting taste tests on family and friends, and at various events. The pandemic pushed the project into high gear, “because I didn’t have anything else to do,” he said. “I was stuck in Atlanta and had to do something.”
The affordable CloudKitchens commercial kitchens space offered a low-risk way for his scrappy indie startup to enter the marketplace.
CloudKitchens is “giving an opportunity for people to thrive,” said Talia Jones, Watkins’ partner, who also handles marketing for Good as Burgers. “Each week, we’ve exceeded our expectations.”
Business was brisk on a recent Saturday evening, with a steady stream of masked, socially distanced third-party delivery drivers approaching the pickup window shared by all the CloudKitchens tenants. For Cornoy and General Manager Jevon Kinloch, that meant filling dinner orders for the signature OG burger and the heftier Double OG, as well as sloppy Joe cheese fries, for those with late-night cravings.
For his plant-based burgers, Watkins swears by Beyond Meat and Violife brand vegan cheese. “It’s the best vegan cheese they have out there,” he said, noting Violife does not have a strange aftertaste like some vegan cheeses do.
Watkins’ Burgers aren’t cheap. A single patty runs $15.99, while the Double OG clocks in at $18.99. “Vegan food costs so much more than a regular burger,” he said. “To survive and pay our bills, it has to be at that price point. We use premium ingredients, and a lot of our stuff is organic.”
Watkins sees his prices as competitive with other local names in vegan eating, including Slutty Vegan and Life Bistro.
The menu includes vegan handhelds, besides the Beyond Meat patties piled with tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, melted cheese and a house sauce, and slapped on a Hawaiian bun. There is the OG Don Dada, a sweet-spicy number featuring a black bean burger marinated in a jerk sauce and topped with coleslaw and mango chutney, as well as sloppy Joe sliders that come three to an order.
The Munchies side of the menu is Watkins’ attempt to attract the nearby late-night college crowd. “Instead of chili cheese fries, I thought, throw sloppy Joe on there with cheese. It came out perfect,” he said. Those looking for something sweet, instead of salty and savory bites, will find slices of vegan strawberry cheesecake and drip cakes prepared by a baker friend.
Although the menu remains concise (and mainly fixed), a few special items periodically make an appearance. Upcoming featured noshes include a kale wrap and a vegan sausage dog.
But, bigger plans are in the works, including the debut of a food truck next summer.
For now, Watkins is content filling orders for vegan burgers, fries and kale salads, dreaming of the day he can bring on more staff, so he can get home at a decent hour to catch some shut-eye. “When we start hiring people,” he said. “I can’t wait to do that.”
Is there a restaurant you want to see featured? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOOD AS BURGERS
Menu: vegan fast food
What I ordered: OG Burger, OG Don Dada black bean burger, kale salad, sloppy Joe cheese fries and cheesecake
Service options: takeout (order online or in person); delivery via DoorDash (if ordering from Good as Burgers website), also available through Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats
Outdoor dining: no
Mask policy: required for all employees and customers
Address, phone: 800 Forrest St. NW, Atlanta; 678-647-6997
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 3-11 p.m. Sundays
Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.