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New Amy’s Kitchen Drive Thru in Rohnert Park

Amy’s Drive-Thru is finally open near the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, and diners of all kinds are flocking in for a most novel thing: Fast food burgers, burritos and pizzas that are purely vegetarian.

The No. 1 seller though the grand opening was the Amy’s Burger, according to Amy’s Kitchen co-founder Rachel Berliner. It’s a hefty bite, bringing a double patty of veggies and grains, topped with double cheese, tomato, onion, Sonoma Brinery pickle, and Fred Sr.’s regular or spicy secret sauce all on a toasted bun ($4.29). A single burger can be had for $2.99, or $2.69 without cheese.

The first hint that this new fast food drive through is different is evident in the roof. It’s a living roof, planted with drought tolerant plants that add a kick of green to the arched, wood, steel and glass structure next to the Graton Resort & Casino on Redwood Highway.

But then, Amy’s Kitchen is known for its progressive ideas, as it makes and distributes natural and organic convenience and frozen foods throughout the United States and United Kingdom. The Petaluma-based company worked for about two years just to develop the veggie burger that will be the star of the Rohnert Park eatery that just opened.

That giant tower in front of the 4,000 square foot building is actually a rainwater capture and filtration system, there are solar panels, apaving is permeable to restrict rain runoff, and furnishings are constructed from recycled materials. Call it “plant based construction.”

It all makes sense for a concept of a plant-based menu, where all natural veggies and grains offer a healthy alternative to a typical fast food meal. Indeed, Andy and Rachel Berliner, who founded Amy's in 1987, have said they want the venture "to be the McDonald's of the future."

For fans of the international Amy’s Kitchen line of packaged and frozen vegetarian foods, the concept is an easy one to embrace. More than 95 percent of Amy’s ingredients are organic, all are non-GMO, every menu item has a vegan or gluten-free option, and everything is made from scratch. That includes labor intensive things like tofu for the meatless chili, pasta for the baked mac ’n’ cheese, pizza dough, and the bread for the burger buns.

Other dishes include chili cheese fries, milkshakes, mac and cheese, personal pizzas, burritos, salads and natural sodas made with GMO-free, organic ingredients, all served by staffers in fair trade, organic cotton uniforms.

Many ingredients are sourced locally, and all food is made from scratch.

Plus, as co-founder Andy Berliner noted, the ready-to-eat cooking means his chefs can add even more flavor via fresh ingredients, adding Petaluma’s Clover Stornetta Farms sour cream and tomatoes in the burritos, for example. The French fries are magical, willowy and greaseless, sourced from the Berliner’s own potato plots in California, and quick fried in sunflower seed oil.

Crisp salads star, as well, like the “Sweet” of seasonal lettuces, roasted yellow beets, dried cranberries, candied pecans and goat cheese with ranch, balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette.

And want fries with that? You know you do. The spuds are a work of art – the Berliner say they taste-tested more than 1,000 recipes to create the perfect organic French fry, finally deciding to have their own specialty potatoes grown just for the shop.

Details: Amy's Drive Thru, 58 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, www.amysdrivethru.com.

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