The way owner Mike Behrend sees it, if his vegan-based Earth Burger restaurant can flourish in San Antonio, it should be able to work just about anywhere.

Earth Burger offers a vegetarian menu in a fast-food environment. Its namesake burger is served on a… – Express-News File PhotoÉilan Hotel & Spa, 18603 La Cantera Terrace, 210-598-2971, eilanhotel.com, will offer a brunch buffe… – Mike Sutter /San Antonio Express-NewsSarapes are hung over chairs for outdoor diners in the cold weather during the lunch hour at Boudro’… – Express-News File Photo

Earth Burger offers a vegetarian menu in a fast-food environment. Its namesake burger is served on a whole wheat bun with secret sauce, mustard, lettuc, tomatoes, pickles and onions. Cheese can be added. Owner Mike Behrend has announce expansion plans for three more locations, including one in Minnesota. He hopes to one day make it a national franchise.

So that’s what he is setting out to do.

A double burger with 44 Farms beef, white onion, Feast house sauce, bacon, American cheese, sweet-an… – Matthew Busch /For The Express-NewsDishes from the Sunday brunch menu at Peggy’s on the Green in Boerne. Clockwise from left: Fried chi… – Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-NewsRebelle Address: 300 E. Travis St. in the St. Anthony hotel, 210-352-3171, rebellesa.com Brunch Hour… – Courtesy Rebelle Restaurant

A double burger with 44 Farms beef, white onion, Feast house sauce, bacon, American cheese, sweet-and-sour pickles and housemade french fries and a spicy ketchup at Feast.

Behrend announced plans for the rapid expansion of his healthy eats property, with three new Earth Burgers set to open by early summer in San Antonio, San Marcos and even inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Beyond that, he thinks there is potential to make it a nationally known vegetarian fast food franchise.

“Sales are up more than 50 percent since the day we opened the original,” he said of the location at the Park North Shopping Center. “This trend of people that have an awareness about putting healthy food into their body isn’t going to go away. About 85 percent of our customers don’t identify as vegetarians.”

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The new San Antonio location will be at 2501 Nacogdoches, in the space of a former longtime Church’s Chicken franchise. Behrend hopes to open in late January

“We are gutting that building,” he said. “There’s a lot of old fried chicken to undo.”

The lease for the location at the Mall of America, a nationally known destination with 5 million square feet of shopping and dining space, was signed this week.

A double Blue Ribbon burger from Cured at The Pearl. – Robin Jerstad /For The Express-NewsThe Jacky Treehorn Burger with bacon, foie gras peanut butter, poblano cheese and green tomato haban… – Mike Sutter /San Antonio Express-News

The decision to head north was unplanned. Behrend said members of the Ghermezian family, which owns the mall, ate at the Houston location of his Green Vegetarian Cuisine and were enthusiastic about adding the restaurant concept to their prized property.

“Technology is a great thing,” Behrend said. “I’ll be up there plenty of times, and we’ll be able to make sure the training and everything else is done according to the way we do things here.”

Once all the loose ends are tied up, Behrend said to expect more announcements of future openings throughout the country.

Earth Burger’s veggie burger and fries. – Earth Burger, Courtesy

“We are very much looking forward to being a national chain,” he said.

cblount@express-news.net | @chuck_blount

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