There’s no question that people are looking for vegan comfort foods more than ever. Grocery store Kroger revealed that vegan comfort food is a trend to watch as more companies and restaurants churn out plant-based variations of mouthwatering classics. Now, Orlando-based Dharma Southern Kitchen is seeking to bring vegan Southern comfort to the rest of the country with its new accelerated expansion plan.

Dharma just announced that the company aims to rapidly expand across Florida throughout 2022 before entering the Southeast United States. By 2023, the company’s team intends to launch locations nationwide, bringing easy and affordable plant-based Southern cuisine to people everywhere. Alongside the announcement, the company launched a new investment fund campaign that invites customers and interested parties to invest in the company’s future direction. The company claims that it plans to open a franchise or storefront in every major US city within the next eight years.

“We stand out in the market because of our commitment to giving communities space to sit down and enjoy our delicious, affordable cookin’ together,” the chain stated. “Everything that comes out of our scratch kitchen is made with love, servin’ up food like your mama used to make it. We use sustainable packaging and practices in our restaurants, and we provide genuine guest service served up with classic southern hospitality.”

Founded by chef Shaun Noonan, the restaurant brand is hosting its crowdfunded investment campaign via StartEngine. The page allows anyone with $190 to join the Dharm team as an investor. Noonan believes that his plant-based concept is ready for nationwide expansion. With 25 years of experience, Noonan hopes that Dharma can bring delicious plant-based foods to millions more Americans.

Noonan’s vegan ventures started small with The Vegan Hot Dog Cart. The chef opened his first brick-and-mortar Dharma location in 2015. Since, the restaurant has expanded to four locations in Tampa, Sanford, and Orlando.

“The hot dog cart was my first entrepreneurial venture out on my own, it is proof that I could build something from scratch and make it wildly successful,” Noonan told VegWorld. “As Dharma brick and mortar locations continue to grow, I will always keep the truck. People love it and I’m all about making people happy with comfort food.”

Dharma specializes in what it calls “fine vittles” that are fully inspired by classic Southern cooking. The vegan establishment claims that its menu will be distinguished from other plant-based chains because its menu features “down-home” comfort food that is otherwise difficult to find. Customers nationwide will be able to get a taste of delicious comfort food without any animal-based ingredients. Some key menu items include the Nashville Hawt spicy fried chik’n sandwich and the Florida Fried Green Tomatoes. Dharma also boasts fair prices starting at $16 for meals and $3.50 for side dishes.

Vegan fast food is becoming more popular than ever. From major brands to budding chains, plant-based fare is expanding across the United States as more customers demand vegan options. With the vegan fast food market expected to reach $40.25 billion by 2028, Dharma expects to attract franchisers and regular investors without trouble.

“Our fast-food and fast-casual restaurant clients all say the majority of patrons are not vegan, with as high as 70 percent identifying as “flexitarians,” in that they are eschewing meat but not fully vegan which makes vegan fast food or fast-casual restaurants appealing from an investment perspective,” Scout 22, Founder of vegan marketing and PR firm Scout 22 Lori Amos said to VegWorld.“Dharma Southern Kitchen has proven they have the skill and drive to become massive. There are a number of generalized burger joints, but fine vittles comfort food, that is new and exciting.”

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