Vegan chain Veggie Grill recently opened its first East Coast location in Cambridge, MA, bringing a wide variety of plant-based options to the Harvard Square area as part of its continuing expansion. “We knew that there were already a lot of veggie-positive folks in the market, so we wanted to serve those guests,” Veggie Grill CEO Steve Heeley told VegNews. “We also know that with college-age students, with Gen Z, that they absolutely want to eat plant-based food and are seeking options … so this was a great fit for us and a great place to open our first East Coast store.” Heeley revealed there is a large demand for plant-based foods at colleges and universities. Veggie Grill opened at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) last year and the restaurant chain recently partnered with food services giant Sodexo to open eateries at additional schools in the future. Heeley attributes Veggie Grill’s success in large part to it being 100-percent plant-based; not just a restaurant that offers plant-based options. “I think today’s consumers—especially the younger generations—are connecting the dots between the industrial food system and things like sustainability and the environment … and concerns about eating animal products,” Heeley said. Veggie Grill offers a wide-ranging menu that includes vegan buffalo wings, plant-based chicken sandwiches, Beyond Burgers, tacos, salads, sides, and a variety of desserts. With the opening of its Cambridge storefront, the California-based chain now operates 35 restaurants across the country—with the next Veggie Grill slated to open in New York City next month. “We’d like to open another eight to 10 next year, including possibly one in Washington, DC,” Heeley said. “We have a lot of opportunities in our existing markets, so we’re looking at those as well as others.”

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