Veggie Grill to Franchise Burger Restaurants


Veggie Grill Inc. is looking to franchising as it expands its new plant-based hamburger concept.

The Culver City-based fast-casual restaurant chain launched its first Stand-Up Burgers location in March in Berkeley and followed up with two more restaurants in Illinois.

“These three are former Veggie Grill sites that we thought could do better in this concept,” said Jay Gentile, who joined Veggie Grill in 2018 as co-president and chief operating officer.

“They’ve been so well-received and very successful. We’re learning right now what’s working and, so far, everything points to us having the ability to take this across the country, and that would be our goal,” he added.

The company is planning to open two more Stand-Up Burgers locations by the end of the year and expects to add three or four more in 2022.

While all 28 Veggie Grill locations and three Stand-Up Burgers are company-owned and operated, the expansion of the new concept will be supported by outside capital.
“This will be the vehicle that we will actually start to franchise,” Gentile said.

The idea for Stand-Up Burgers was conceived about eight months ago as a way for the company to invite consumers to take “a stand to do the right thing for the planet, do the right thing for your health, to do the right thing for animals,” he said.

“This has always been our belief, but Stand-Up Burgers is like Veggie Grill’s little rebellious sister who kind of says it in your face because Veggie Grill has always been polite about it,” Gentile added.

Stand-Up Burgers’ menu lists a barbecue bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken sandwich, onion rings and “Save the Animal-Style Fries,” among other plant-based delicacies.

“It’s all about taking the really American classic food and evolving it into plant-based foods,” Gentile said.

The Stand-Up Burgers patties come from Impossible Foods Inc. in Redwood City, while the Veggie Grill locations serve plant-based meat substitute from Beyond Meat Inc. in El Segundo.

“Veggie Grill has always been in a partnership with Beyond Meat, and they’re very great partner for us,” Gentile said. “We helped launch Beyond Burger in the restaurant business a couple of years ago, so our relationship is committed and strong and lasting. We are working with Impossible Beef on the Stand-Up Burgers concept because their patties have a flavor profile that makes it a better fit.”

A couple of months before launching Stand-Up Burgers, Veggie Grill announced Más Veggies Taqueria, an online-only menu selection available via Doordash, Postmates, Uber Eats and Grubhub to customers in Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, Seattle, Boston and New York.

The virtual concept addressed surging consumer demand for plant-based options and the preference for contactless delivery.

“It’s been really significant for us, and it really helped us to through this whole pandemic,” Gentile said.

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