Food is serious business. Now, on The Main Course, host Barbara Castiglia will invite insiders on the front lines of food to share their expertise, strategies, and forecasts for navigating the ever-changing restaurant industry.
Fast food is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S., rooted in convenience and comfort food. But consumers are changing, and so is the world of fast food. Host Barbara Castiglia discussed the revolution of vegan fast food with Jeffrey Harris of Plant Power Fast Food.
Harris first became a vegetarian as a teenager out of concern for animals. As he aged, he transitioned to vegan, appreciating the health aspects and environmental impact of being meatless. Then he began to toss around the idea of vegan fast food. It took a while for it to become a reality when he teamed up with Mitch Wallis, a successful vegan dining operator, and Zach Vouga.
“We began meeting in 2014 to plot our overthrow of traditional fast-food industry,” Harris joked.
They may be on their way to doing just that and are focused on their food, not trying to turn people vegan. “We wanted to create a comfortable idea for people not thinking about going vegan. Fast food is an easy way to explore something new,” Harris said.
Their ideal customer isn’t someone already a vegan or vegetarian, but a new segment called flexitarians. Harris explained, “It’s a new class of customers, and our target market is anyone who wants a healthier alternative.”
Castiglia and Harris also talked about how fast-food giants are now offering meatless dishes. “It’s something we predicted, and they are changing what’s okay. They aren’t a competitive threat, and that’s because of our brand,” he said.
The Plant Power brand incorporates animal wellbeing, healthy food options, and less impact on the environment. Diners may ascribe to one or all three of this. “Ultimately, our food is the message. We welcome everyone with love. We aren’t preachy, just delivering great food,” Harris noted.
With its message and quality food, the chain is thriving, adapting well to drive-thru and takeout during the pandemic. The future looks bright as well. The company has plans to open more locations in 2021 and bring on franchise partners to spread their vision.