Vegetarian alert: Veggie Grill plans major expansion


Veggie Grill, the chain of vegetarian restaurants based in Santa Monica, is planning to double its store count within 18 months.

In the first half of the year, branches are set to open in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Seattle. The company said it more than doubled its locations last year to 16 eateries in California, Oregon and Washington.

In its fourth round of equity fund-raising, announced Monday, Veggie Grill said it raised $20 million in common stock funding.


Much of the investment came from Brentwood Associates, making the Los Angeles private equity firm Veggie Grill’s largest single shareholder.

Southern California is already home to several other popular vegetarian and vegan chains.

Real Food Daily, launched in 1993 in Santa Monica, now also has locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica. Native Foods Cafe, founded in 1994 in Palm Springs, has 14 eateries total. Though based in the Bay Area, Cafe Gratitude has multiple Southland locations.

And it’s not just vegetarians or vegans who frequent such restaurants. An increasing focus on good-for-you eating is also driving business.

A report from research group Technomic earlier this month showed that 64% of consumers say it’s important to eat healthfully and pay attention to nutrition. In 2010, just 57% said the same.


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