I was in San Diego just a few weeks ago attending some Chakra Meditation classes and was actually very eager to visit a plant based fast food restaurant I had heard of. This was my first trip ever to San Diego and I was spending the weekend at Ocean Beach. A small, hippie relaxed beach town with tons of yoga studios and healthy restaurants. Well I guess there is no place on earth more updated and health focused then California. I get surprises and inspired every day. There is always something new to learn, taste and test.
Luckily I got to meet the owner Jeff Harris who created this concept with a delicious menu. Chicken burgers, but no chicken. Meat burgers, but no meat. And even the most tasty milkshakes I have ever had, but no milk. Jeff even claims that most of their customers are meat eaters who are trying new things and want to make healthier choices. After the interview I will tell you about my experience with the food.
Tell me about the concept and what made you decide build up a healthier version of fast food?
We’re careful with signage in the restaurant and the use of quotes on our menu to make sure that everyone understands that the “chicken” or “beef” on the menu is in fact plant-based and contains no animal products. Omnivores wouldn’t feel too happy if they were “fooled” into eating vegan food and the vegans and vegetarians who frequent our restaurant need to be assured that the food they’re going to consume doesn’t contain any meat or dairy products. What we keep hearing from our customers is that they didn’t realize how delicious plant-based food can be.
We use fresh, locally sourced produce and the majority of our products are now organic. Our “meat” type products are made from a combination of grains and vegetable ingredients. Some items, like our “Black Bean Patty” are made from legumes and vegetable products. More and more we’ve increasingly incorporated gluten-free options on our menu as well. All of our products are free of artificial sweeteners, colors and GMO’s.
Our San Diego location opened up at the end of January 2016 in an area called Ocean Beach. It’s an area where people come to surf, do yoga, run and generally lead healthy lifestyles. That may be part of the reason why our restaurant has been so enthusiastically embraced by the local community. However, I think that the trend towards healthy eating is really a nationwide phenomena. Although our second restaurant) opening in May 2017) is also near the beach, we look forward to building new locations in a variety of different communities.
We’re thrilled at the success of our first restaurant. From our first day of operation through the end of our first year, sales have far exceeded our expectations. I think that a lot of people have been looking for a healthier alternative to traditional fast food for a long time and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve done so well. We’re also proud to announce that as a business we’ve been profitable in our first year. Our investor group was pleasantly surprised to see us begin to disperse profits by our 2nd quarter of operation. This is extremely unusual for a new business. We’ve been receiving requests from people from all over the country and the world who have asked to franchise restaurants in their cities and towns. Right now we’re in the process of putting together a larger business structure that will enable us to begin expand more rapidly.
Well, the easy answer is YES! We do have a very big, global vision for Plant Power Fast Food. However, our first step is to build a new corporate structure which will support that type of expansion. We’ll focus on California for the next year or so but we hope to begin to expand nationally as quickly as possible after that. As I mentioned, we’re getting requests from people all over the world for one of our restaurants in their city, so we know that the need is there. Although we haven’t completed the foundation for our franchise structure yet, we do feel that we will be prepared to develop join venture locations by early to mid 2018. This might allow us to begin to slowly expand beyond the US and look at Norway or other countries where investors and consumers are expressing interest. Of course, I’d love to have a chance to visit my new friends in Norway!