It almost feels like a back alley deal when I go to a mom-n-pop casual burger joints any more. Eyes darting back and forth across the menu, I nervously ask the server “Do you, uhh, have any Impossible Burgers?” Lately, the answer as been “no,” as Impossible struggles to keep up with demand.
And it’s not just up where I live near Seattle. Smaller restaurants across the country in places like South Bend, IN, and Asheville, NC, and even in New York City have pulled the Impossible burger from its menus because of short supply.
But if Doc’s Marina Grill on Bainbridge Island, WA is to be believed, the Impossible drought of 2019 could be coming to an end in as little as two weeks. I live down the road from Doc’s and spoke with its General Manager, Allison Smith, who confirmed that they are indeed currently sold out of the plant-based burgers but that they should be getting more soon.
Smith laid the Impossible shortage on Burger King and Red Robin (a reason echoed by another nearby restaurant), which makes sense. In April, Burger King decided to take the Impossible Whopper nationwide over the rest of this year, and Impossible Foods would obviously prioritize an order of that magnitude over the needs of a quaint restaurant in the Pacific Northwest (or South Bend or Asheville). UPDATE: Impossible told us that it was “totally inaccurate” to say Burger King is the reason for its burger shortage. From a spokesperson’s email:
Burger King sells the Impossible Whopper in about 200 restaurants. That’s less than 3% of the total number of outlets that sell the Impossible Burger.
The vast majority of our 8,000 or so customers are small business owners. We are literally working 24-7 to increase production in the plant in Oakland, which is currently running around the clock with two 12-hour shifts.
Doc’s tried to ration its supply as best they could for the past couple of months, prohibiting its staff from ordering the Impossible burger to leave more for customers. Smith said people come in specifically for the Impossible burger (this reporter among them), and while they are disappointed to realize they’re sold out, she said most have understood and actually knew about the Impossible shortage from reading the news.
Smith said that Impossible has been very communicative throughout the whole ordeal, and even sent Doc’s “sold out” stickers to place on its menu. “They let us know they were getting low and we wouldn’t get any from our purveyors,” said Smith, “I get an email a day from them on the supply.”
And based on recent communication from Impossible, Smith said that supply is ramping up. “According to [Impossible], they have increased production and are fully staffed.” Smith said that Doc’s should be getting its Impossible stock back in two weeks, and the pipeline of burgers should be steady after that. UPDATE: Impossible would not provide a specific date for resuming supply.
Now, whether or not this means every mom-n-pop restaurant will get their Impossible fix, or if indeed this re-supply is a permanent fix remains to be seen. Perhaps the re-supply is rolling out on a region-by-region basis, or maybe long-time customers will get serviced first. We reached out to Impossible for clarification and will update this post when we hear back.
In the meantime, I’ve already marked my calendar two weeks from now to take a trip back down to Doc’s to down a long-awaited Impossible burger.