A new fast-casual plant-based drive-thru is launching in Costa Mesa, CA. The new vegan joint, called VEG’D, is the brainchild of celebrity vegan chef Matthew Kenney in partnership with entrepreneur Christine Mulholland. VEG’D will be located in a building that was housed a Del Taco, further signaling the growing demand for plant-based options on the go. The menu will offer “plant-forward clean eats” the company says, and include items like veggie burgers, bowls, salads, a breakfast burrito featuring JUST Egg, protein smoothies, and more.

Costa Mesa and the Orange County area are no strangers to plant-based fast-casual dining. There has been a steady drumbeat of plant-based restaurants opening in its backyard over the last several years including Seabirds and Native Foods Cafe, as well as Plant Power Fast Food which is a growing force with locations in neighboring Fountain Valley and Long Beach and five others in California. But Kenney and Mulholland think a drive-thru location, right off the freeway, with a fresh and clean, eco-conscious take on fast food will entice locals and travelers-by alike.

VEG'D Offers a New Kind of Vegan Drive-Thru

The company says that “VEG’D is a new kind of drive-thru” that differentiates itself in a few ways, including being chef-driven, which is atypical of fast-food. “Chef-driven” means that the restaurant has a chef, or in VEG’D’s case, has multiple chefs—they have an entire test kitchen team based in Venice, CA—that creates and innovates new recipes specific to the location and utilizing local produce, which is also inspired by the cuisine of the concept, as well as that of the surroundings.

Mulholland, a SoCal native, had the idea several years ago for a fast-food drive-thru which at the time seemed impossible. After watching the market demand growth, she reached out to Kenney and pitched him on the idea. VEG’D was born. VEG’D though is a branch outside of Kenney’s comfort zone and the brand he has built on elevated plant-based dining. But if he can bring the same flavor and care in his fine-dining establishments to an affordable fast-food outfit, it just might be a recipe for success. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to expand into the drive-thru market, it’s been a dream of mine,” says Kenney. “The Costa Mesa and Orange County community is the perfect place for us to begin our journey of spreading plant-based cuisine to the masses, on a grander scale than we have been able to with our sit-down dining options.”

VEG'D is Planning on Prioritizing Sustainability

Kenney and Mullholand are also ensuring the sustainability is front and center for VEG’D. Food packaging is made from 100% recycled materials, and/or biodegradable and compostable. Additionally, the restaurant plans to either compost or donate all food waste. They even have a Forest Smoothie that when you purchase, the company funds the planting of a tree. “We are so excited to be bringing this fresh, mindful new concept to the fast-food market, an industry saturated by long-standing giants that have failed to consider the health of their consumers and our planet,” explains Mulhollan.

The VEG’D concept is set to expand to more locations in the months ahead, with the Costa Mesa VEG’D likely opening sometime in May 2021. In the meantime, Kenney’s restaurant group, Matthew Kenney Cuisine (MKC), has more projects launching including the upcoming opening of Hungry Angelina in Brooklyn, the third location of SESTINA in Philadelphia—following the SESTINA launch in Culver City late last year—and an unnamed project at 1245 Broadway in New York, all set to launch in the coming months. The MKC team also has plans to open a restaurant at the One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico, a wellness-inspired concept, AYRE at the luxurious Amrit Resort in Palm Beach, Florida, along with several product lines and restaurants openings nationwide.

Globally, MKC is building on partnerships with hotel partners and says he is looking forward to launching new concepts in London and other parts of Europe, as well as expanding in Australia, South America, and more. So no matter where you travel in the near future, there’s a good chance you’ll be driving-thru or sitting down at an MKC restaurant near you.

More From The Beet