For most people, the word fast food means nothing but unhealthy, super greasy fare. Fast food is saved for long car rides where you have no other options and let’s be honest, it might taste great (thanks to the magic salt to fat ratio), but we all know how bad it is for our health – not to mention, it’s really not the best bet for the planet either.
But the world of fast food as we know it is changing.
It’s probably time people learned the name Veggie Grill – a fast-casual chain that’s going gangbusters in Southern California and also happens to be entirely vegan. It announced Wednesday last week that investors who are liking what they’re seeing have sunk another $22 million into the company so it can finally expand in earnest beyond the West Coast.
The chain received $20 million in 2013,
money it used to double the number of stores it was running to 28. The investment should be enough to double the chain’s size again by 2019, it predicts, and the spots it’s eyeing for expansion are primarily urban areas all over the country. The plan is to widen Veggie Grill’s footprint in California, but also to “move out of the West Coast region,” CEO Steve Heeley tells Nation’s Restaurant News. “We’re still evaluating markets, but we’re looking at the Midwest and the East Coast.”
The chain’s seasonally rotating menu offers a mix of burgers, salads packed with superfoods,
Asian-inspired bowls, and even a few main-and-two-sides-style entrées, all made without any meat, dairy products, eggs, cholesterol, or trans fat. Some people may never know it, though: Dishes include several with fried “chickin’” plus veggie versions of everything from crab to beef.
NRN says there are also plans to occupy airports and university food courts.
The chain seems emboldened by its own market research, which it says shows “a large number of what we call ‘veggie positive’ people” out there who still like meat, but “want to move vegetables to the center of the plate.”
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