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Veggie Grill has announced that one of its offshoot brands, Stand-Up Burgers, is opening a fourth location and its first in Los Angeles. Construction of a Culver City restaurant has begun, with June 15 being slated as the opening date. While Veggie Grill caters to a range of plant-based palates, Stand-Up specialises in traditional American fast-food staples including burgers, hotdogs, and sides including tater tots.
Existing Stand-Up locations include Berkeley and Chicago, with the former opening in March last year. The restaurants are known for their vegan brioche bun and Impossible Foods patty combinations, with seven signature flavours listed at the last count.
An alternative to mainstream fast-food chains
Veggie Grill was the result of a successful tech company sale and introspection, on the part of founder T.K. Pillan. It launched in 2006 with a mission of helping consumers to avoid illness, by eating better food. Plant-based living was deemed to be a good solution and with no experience in the food trade, Pillan opened his first location. Fast forward to 2022 and his restaurant legacy is vast.
“Today we have 30 Veggie Grills and three Stand-Up Burgers,” Pillan told L.A. Weekly. “We’re going to open five Stand-up Burgers this year across L.A. and New York and start looking for franchise partners. The world wasn’t ready for plant-based burgers in 2006, but it’s ready now.”
Pillan has previously highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a significant uptick in packaged plant-based food sales. He chalked this up to consumers “waking up” to the reality that they need to choose foods that are sustainable and healthy, because our future is not guaranteed. He also acknowledged that the period was temporarily devastating for the restaurant trade.
“We as a restaurant got hit hard during the initial weeks of the pandemic, but we’ve had quite a comeback over the summer and fall months,” he told Green Queen in March last year. “While urban locations are still a challenge because office workers have yet to come back, our suburban locations are positive year-on-year.”
Plans to open five new restaurants this year point to a full recovery.
The path to less meat consumption
Stand-Up states that as a brand, it believes “there shouldn’t be a divide between food, activism and positive change’. As such it promotes the sustainability and cruelty-free nature of vegan food and asks consumers to consider moving away from conventional beef.
Last November it was revealed, by the Mirror, that for every Big Mac it produces, Mcdonald’s creates 2.35 kilograms of CO2. In the U.S. alone, more than 2 million Big Macs are sold every day. This is just one burger variation, from one food brand. The vegan McPlant burger was also calculated and found to create 0.12 kilograms of CO2.
Chains such as Stand-Up have set out to offer vegan alternatives of longstanding favourite burger styles, in a bid to reduce consumption of the emissions-heavy originals. Stand-Up has a fully vegan menu, including oat milk milkshakes, crispy chicken sandwiches, and salads.
Appetites for vegan burgers increasing
Burgers remain a food staple for many vegan consumers, leading to more brands trying to capture the plant-based demographic. The U.S. and U.K. both have their fair share of vegan burger chains with some of the biggest players announcing new partnerships and backers to take their reach to the next level.
Atlanta’s Slutty Vegan just announced that it has closed a $25 million Series A funding round. Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer led the round, which will help open a further 20 restaurants by the end of 2023. Brooklyn and Baltimore have been named as potential destinations.
In the U.K., Lewis Hamilton’s Neat Burger chain is making a play for the U.S. market. A permanent Manhattan restaurant has been confirmed, following a successful pop-up. Alongside the stateside expansion, Leonardo DiCaprio has been named as a new strategic investor. The Hollywood actor participated early in a Series B funding round that was recently launched.
Lead photo by Stand-Up Burgers.