Michelin-rated celebrity chef Matthew Kenney and his partner, Christine Mulholland are bringing VEG’D, a new fresh plant-based restaurant and drive-thru to Costa Mesa next month.
Although Costa Mesa is home to more than 10 restaurants that are plant-based or offer plant-based options, Mulholland experienced rejection because few landlords were willing to take the chance on their drive-thru concept.
“We weren’t able to offer that million-dollar guarantee these giants [corporations] are able to do and these landlords are looking for,” Mullholand said.
According to Ipsos Retail Performance, since 2004, the American interest in a plant-based diet has grown from 290,000 to 9.7 million people. However, the U.S. population that considers themselves vegan is still around 3% of the population according to The Beet.
The concept for VEG’D is that it has a drive-thru, however, there will also be indoor and patio dining available. Space will be included for students to study while enjoying a meal. Mulholland wanted to make fresh and organic food easily accessible and available to people on-the-go. Items on the menu include bowls, wraps and sandwiches that will range from $8 to $11.
To continue with their goal of sustainable practices and keeping a 100% plant-based menu, VEG’D has partnered with Forest Smoothie. Mulholland was introduced to Philip Dickenson, the founder of Forest Smoothie, by her guide during a backpacking trip in Sumatra.
“Our green smoothie [on] the menu will go towards the reforestation project. With every purchase some of the proceeds will go towards replanting trees and protecting the forest,” Mulholland said.
Forest Smoothie’s main mission is to plant as many trees as possible to combat global deforestation.
Dickenson left his job as a director in the television industry to follow his true passions.
“My concern was growing and growing and I didn’t find I could spend my nine to five days anymore not taking action and doing what I could,” Dickenson said.
With a passion for human rights, animal rights and environmental justice, Dickenson wanted to incorporate his love for food and his concern for the planet into Forest Smoothie.
“The idea to sell a drink that plants a tree was formed. Just a simple metric of buying a bite and a drink, hydrating and nourishing our bodies, but at the same time, putting a plant back into the ground from where our ingredients have been sourced,” Dickenson said.
For every Forest Smoothie that is sold, 50% of the proceeds go to planting a tree.
“As long as we get $1.40, we can plant a tree,” Dickenson said.
Another unique feature about Forest Smoothie is that no one Forest Smoothie tastes the same.
“We don’t specify one recipe for the smoothie. So every partner, globally, with the exception of partners that have multiple outlets, have created their own unique recipe for a smoothie,” Dickenson said.
Dickenson and Forest Smoothie encourage their partners to source their ingredients locally which creates individual flavors.
Once VEG’D is open, their hours of operation will be 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is also expected to be available through multiple food delivery apps including ChowNow, GrubHub, Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats.