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I’m with ERIE

Organic burger takes second place on Good Morning America

February 11, 2010

Derek and Amanda Luhowiak, Owners of Local 647
Customers with Treakle Insurance Agency
Local 647's Organic Burger

in Marshall, Va.

Hometown: Marshall, Va.

Where you’ve heard their name: On Good Morning America. The Luhowiaks operate a food cart, Local 647, that placed second in Good Morning America’s Best Food Cart Challenge last fall. The contest aimed to find “the best street food in America prepared and served in food carts.” Local 647’s winning entry? A delectable hamburger.

How they hit the big time: Several regular cart customers nominated Local 647 for their signature organic burger, made from ingredients grown in the Luhowiak’s garden and by other local farmers. The makings include Piedmontese beef, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, onions, homemade pickles and condiments and served on an artisan bun. (Get the recipe.)

Why so tasty: “Everything is completely local. The fact we hand-make the pickles and condiments makes it special,” says Derek. “We use Piedmontese beef that has the same amount of fat as a chicken breast, so you get the best of both worlds — a big juicy hamburger that is pretty darn good for you.”

Local focus: In the food business since he was 15, Derek wanted an alternative to the restaurant routine that he could run with Amanda, whom he married in October 2008. Opening a mobile food cart that visits local farmers’ markets proved the perfect blend between Derek’s professional experience and the couple’s focus on a simple, sustainable lifestyle. They opened on April 22, 2009 — Earth Day.

What Derek says about his 15 minutes of fame: “Just amazing. Six months in business and we end up on a nationally televised show.” 

But fame can have its challenges too. Shortly after the show aired, patrons lined up 40-people deep to taste the burger. Derek wrote on his menu chalkboard: “We were on TV, but we’re still the same little cart with the same two people."

Future franchise?: Simplicity is what the Luhowiaks sought and what they hope to maintain. The only growth they plan this year is to grow more of their own produce.
Over time, they may expand the business in a slow but sure manner.

“I don’t want to build an ugly house on top of a beautiful foundation,” explains Derek. “The magical thing about doing this is wherever I open my window, that is my view for the day. One day I might be looking over a vineyard and the next at a bustling farmers’ market.”

Why ERIE? Amanda’s parents are longtime ERIE Customers, and she followed in their footsteps when she started driving in 1997. After she and Derek were married, Derek switched to ERIE. The couple now has their vehicles and food cart insured with ERIE. They appreciate the personalized service of Agents Darin Treakle and Brenda Fry.

“For us, ERIE is a no brainer,” says Amanda. “Brenda is always willing to answer our questions or look up whatever we need. We’ve always had great experiences with ERIE.”

Says Derek: “I had no problem becoming an ERIE convert. Brenda Fry makes working with ERIE a nice and comfortable process. Everyone who works for ERIE goes out of their way to be accommodating.”

To learn more about Local 647: visit (requires Adobe Flash).