The plant-based eatery recently opened its 32nd and 33rd locations in downtown Los Angeles and Chicago. The new stores - eight to 10 of which it wants to open this year - will be in the east, including in New York and Boston, a departure for the largely west-based brand.
Veggie Grill, which opened in 2006, serves what it describes as 'healthy plant-based' versions of classic American fare and other dishes - including the Beyond Burger, various bowls and salads, wraps, quinoa, and desserts and cookies.
Speaking about the chain's growth to Forbes, Veggie Grill CEO Steve Heeley, said: "We appeal to vegan and vegetarians who are about 20 percent of our business. The other 80 percent is what we call people who are veggie-positive.
These are people that have made a mindful decision to incorporate more vegetable, fruits, whole grains, and whole foods in their diet. That’s our biggest audience...
"The bigger trend we see is that plant-based food is going mainstream. The consumer has figured out they can eat plant-based food and it doesn’t have to be a bunch of greens on a plate with steamed broccoli. Plant food can replicate chicken, beef and shrimp, and you don’t have to sacrifice your palette."
The chain points out that none of its stores are franchised - they are all company-owned.
Vegan on campus
Earlier this year, Veggie Grill partnered foodservice and facilities management company Sodexo in a bid to offer menu items from the chain at select college and university locations during the academic year 2019-20.
"We have strategically opened several of our restaurant locations nearby or on college campuses, including UCLA, UC Berkeley and University of Washington," Veggie Grill CEO Steve Heeley said.
"College students are at the forefront of the plant-based movement and they are more mindful about what they eat. We look forward to partnering with Sodexo to serve our plant-based food to a wider audience of university students and faculty."
Vegan chain restaurants
Veggie Grill joins another vegan outlet which has aggressive expansion plans for the next few years: Canadian-based chain Copper Branch - which has two outlets in the US - has plans to open its 50th store this month - saying it will open another 150 by the end of 2020.
"Expanding Copper Branch has been our focus as we want to continue to change the way plant-based foods are perceived globally and make chef-inspired flavors accessible," Rio Infantino, CEO of Copper Branch, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
Stefano Ferri, Copper Branch’s Chief Officer Of Global Operations, aded that 'in the short term the company, whose mission is to empower, energize and make people feel their best, expects to have over 200 locations open by 2020, concentrating on the U.S. and Western Europe'.