Atlas Monroe, the Black woman-owned Los Angeles startup that turned down a US$1 million investment on Shark Tank, is now set to become the largest manufacturer of plant-based fried chicken. Acquiring a multimillion dollar facility in San Diego, the firm will be churning out a whopping one million pounds of its vegan fried chicken by the end of 2021.
Atlas Monroe founder Deborah Torres made headlines for turning down billionaire investor Mark Cuban’s US$1 million offer to buy out the brand on the American television series Shark Tank – and now she’s proven that keeping the company exclusively under her ownership was the right decision.
“The fact you guys are even offering a million dollars lets me know you do understand what we are worth,” Torres said on the program, which aired in 2019, adding that she believed she could lead the brand to its true potential.
What was meant to harm me propelled me to where I am today—the proud and sole owner of the world’s largest vegan fried chicken manufacturing company and 100% owner of a multimillion dollar manufacturing facility.Deborah Torres, Founder, Atlas Monroe
Fast forward to today, Atlas Monroe has purchased a multimillion dollar two-storey manufacturing plant in San Diego, California. The enormous 10,000 square foot facility is expected to produce million pounds of product by the end of this year, making it the world’s largest manufacturer of plant-based fried chicken.
Speaking to VegNews, Torres said she is “proud [to be] the sole owner of the world’s largest vegan fried chicken manufacturing company and 100% owner of a multimillion dollar manufacturing facility.”
Imagine being a Black woman in America graduating high school at age 15 and receiving your first degree at 17 all to be made to look like an idiot on national television for the sake of views.Deborah Torres, Founder, Atlas Monroe
Since her appearance on Shark Tank, Atlas Monroe has topped US$2 million in sales from its direct-to-consumer website, and is hoping to keep up with demand by adding a second manufacturing location by the end of the year.
The brand’s line-up has expanded to include a number of other plant-based meat products, from vegan applewood-smoked ribs, stuffed turkey, plant-based bacon and desserts such as chocolate cake. Even 100% vegan lasagne is on the menu, made with Atlas Monroe’s smoked ground beef analogue.
In her interview with VegNews, the founder also delved into some of the misrepresentations that the reality television series projected about herself and her brand.
“There were many edits of conversations to make it appear that I wasn’t intelligent enough for obvious dramatic effects of the ‘shocking’ ending,” she said.
“I mean, if we are going to talk about it honestly, just imagine being a Black woman in America graduating high school at age 15 and receiving your first degree at 17 all to be made to look like an idiot on national television for the sake of views, when you were just trying to pursue your dreams—it was crushing, to say the least.”
All images courtesy of Atlas Monroe / Deborah Torres.