New York City-based vegan chain Beyond Sushi will soon expand to the West Coast. The brand is currently scouting locations, with a particular focus on Los Angeles, and plans to establish three to five outposts in the region in the next 18 months. In 2012, Guy Vaknin and his wife Tali Vaknin opened the flagship location of Beyond Sushi in NYC’s Union Square neighborhood before expanding the now six-location chain across Manhattan. Prior to opening Beyond Sushi, Guy Vaknin was a finalist on Gordon Ramsey’s cooking reality show Hell’s Kitchen. “I have grown tremendously as a chef and even more as an entrepreneur, but I am just getting started,” Guy Vaknin told VegNews. “You have to enjoy the journey and make it last as long as possible. I believe I always have to keep growing and facing new challenges in order to serve a purpose in life.” On October 21, Guy Vaknin appeared on an episode of Shark Tank where he secured $1.5 million in investment funding—in exchange for equity—from two “sharks” (investors): prolific inventor Lori Greiner and entertainment businessman Matt Higgins. “Both sharks have been very engaged since the day we met in the tank,” Guy Vaknin said, explaining that both Higgins and Greiner are lending their expertise to help Beyond Sushi expand outside of NYC and grow its East Coast operations—which netted $4 million in sales last year. The West Coast concepts will closely follow Beyond Sushi’s 37th Street location model of a full-service restaurant with a diverse menu of vegetable-centric sushi rolls (made with black and four-grain rice), dumplings, noodle dishes, and rice paper rolls, along with cocktails and desserts. Guy Vaknin is strongly opposed to the idea that veganism is a fad or a trend. “This is the future and for those who have not realized yet, they definitely will later,” he said. “My motto has always been: ‘Get on the train now or jump on later, but soon it will not be a choice.’”
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