Oprah-Backed Healthy Chain True Food Kitchen Rakes In $100 Million for Expansion Plans

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True Food Kitchen, the Oprah-backed healthy restaurant chain founded by Dr. Andrew Weil in 2008, says it has raised more than $100 million to fuel its growth plans.

The latest investment round was led by HumanCo and Manna Tree, and included participation by existing investor Centerbridge Partners.

Unlocking ‘tremendous’ potential

“This investment enables us to truly broaden our mission to help well-being through more accessible, real food,” Christine Barone, CEO of True Food Kitchen, said in a statement. “This capital will unlock a tremendous amount of potential for our future, allowing us to expand our footprint, launch smaller formats, and ultimately allow more people across the country to experience great tasting food that is truly good for you.”

Oprah Winfrey and True Food Kitchen CEO Christine Barone at the True Food Kitchen Winter Harvest Community Dinner in Pasadena, California.
Oprah Winfrey and True Food Kitchen CEO Christine Barone at the True Food Kitchen in Pasadena, California. | Courtesy

With 42 locations operating across 17 states, True Food Kitchen says the demand for healthier food is behind the fundraising. Pulling from his integrative nutrition background, Dr. Weil aimed to fill a dining void—a fine dining experience with healthy, seasonal foods at the center of the plate. He succeeded, earning early support from high-profile investors including media mogul Oprah Winfrey. She invested in the chain in 2018.

“Bringing people together over a delicious meal that makes you feel good has always been a passion of mine. It’s what made me want to be part of True Food Kitchen originally,” Winfrey said. “I am excited to continue to support the brand in expanding their mission to bring seasonal, delicious and nutritious food to more people.”

Building a better food system

Jason Karp, founder and chief executive officer of HumanCo, says True Food Kitchen is in a category of its own.

De. Andrew Weil  True Food Kitchen
De. Andrew Weil | Courtesy

“It’s an amazing, uniquely mission-driven brand that’s authentic, accessible and unwavering at a time when a lot of health and wellness is not. While many companies are engineering man-made and synthetic products, True Food Kitchen looks to nature and farms for all of its food — and we believe this is how we can all build a better, more sustainable food system. Most of all, we love that it’s not just healthy food, but also delicious, craveable food with fresh and intriguing options using only the best real food ingredients,” Karp said.

According to Brent Drever, co-founder and president of Manna Tree, the investment firm made the investment into the chain because True Food aligns with its own commitments. “We’re looking forward to working closely with their management team and leveraging our expertise to help True Food Kitchen bring its revolutionary ‘better food for better living’ concept to a much wider audience,” he said.

More than 75 percent of Americans say they eat healthily, but data reveal that’s not the case. One study found less than three percent of Americans fit the definition of a healthy lifestyle. Still, restaurants—particularly fast-food chains—have been angling toward healthier fare in recent years. Consumers say they’re driven to eat healthier plant-forward diets first for their health and secondarily for the planet.

Images courtesy True Food Kitchen


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