Jesus, Burgers, and Taxicabs

For entrepreneur Hans Hess, better food and cleaner transportation aren't just ways to make money—they're means to serve both God and humanity.

Appears in Winter 2010 Issue: Faithful living
December 1st, 2010

To say that Hans Hess' career path has meandered would be an understatement: In college, he majored in physics. Then he went to Dallas Seminary. After that, he landed on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide. Obviously, that set him up to be a serial entrepreneur. Today, the California native lives just outside Washington, D.C., and runs two companies: Elevation Burger, a rapidly growing fast-food chain that serves burgers made from organic, grass-fed beef and fresh-cut French fries fried in olive oil; and EnviroCab, a northern Virginia taxi operation whose earth-friendly fleet has only Priuses and hybrid Ford Escapes.

Jeff Chu: OK, so where's the common thread between burgers and taxis?

Hans Hess: [Laughs] They're both about care for people and for the environment.

JC: And how do you get from seminary to burgers and taxis?

HH: I have a degree in theology from Dallas Seminary, and I've spent the last 10 to 15 years thinking about how being a Christian affects what I do in the world. I also got a degree in physics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. I didn't do either degree with the idea that I'd be a theologian or a physicist. I just couldn't have been those things. So I was left with trying to reconcile living an alternate life with doing something I thought would please God. I wanted to do something that was positive and that was different.

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