Amy’s Drive Thru shines as a beacon of plant-based motion

Amy’s Drive Thru shines as a beacon of plant-based motion

As of 2022, Amy’s operates four separate locations in Rohnert Park, Corte Madera and Roseville, California, and another at San Francisco International Airport. In terms of upcoming growth, the focus is on the West Coast (San Diego, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle), with two locations opening this year in Southern California cities, Thousand Oaks and Aliso Viejo. After 2022, the strategy is to steadily increase the total each year, that is, from three to four openings in 2023, and from five to six in 2024. At that rate, Amy could quadruple in size in three years.

All such future stores will be owned by the company and will not be franchised.

“We are a family business,” says Wolfgram, explaining Amy’s decision to remain a business. “We are owned by the Berliner family, the founders of Amy’s Kitchen, and have been a family business for over 40 years with no outside investors, allowing us to ensure we stay focused on our core values. The mission of the family is to bring affordable organic vegetarian food to as many people as possible and keeping it in the hands of the family is more aligned with their values. “

Each unit is built with sustainability in mind, including a living roof (one that is covered in greenery), gray water recycling (wastewater generated in a building), solar panels, and the use of other renewable resources. Plus, all of the restaurant’s packaging is compostable, and its plant-based burgers produce just 10 percent of the typical carbon footprint of a traditional beef burger.

In late 2020, Amy’s became a certified B Corporation, a distinction awarded to brands that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance.

“We believe that in the long run, consumers will recognize that we are trying to do the right thing and there will be a return on that investment, but above all, it is the right thing to do for the planet,” says Wolfgram.

To date, Amy’s has only built from scratch, which is necessary considering not only its sustainability requirements, but also how the kitchen should be organized.

Most of the plant-based dishes at fast food chains are not prepared vegan or vegetarian as they share the equipment with the usual meat products, but that’s not the case at Amy’s. To ensure that restaurants can serve vegetarian and vegan meals, the back of the house is divided into specific stations. In the burger area, a grill is used to create gluten-free products, while a larger grill in a separate space is used for vegan dishes. Wolfgram says there are few kitchens that can fit Amy’s specifications.

All of that adds up to increased complexity, of which the chain is well aware.

“Our training system just needs to be perfect because when we make a commitment to someone that something is going to be gluten free and they have a gluten allergy, we have a responsibility and a social responsibility to make sure we get it right. ”Says Wolfgram. “Whether it’s a dairy or gluten allergy, we have complete training systems and operational systems in place to make sure we get it right.”

Amy continues to gain momentum in a space that is only increasing. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the plant-based industry could hit $ 162 billion in the next decade, up from $ 29.4 billion in 2020. Additionally, a survey by virtual restaurant company Nextbite found that 46 percent of those surveyed want to eat healthier in 2022, making it the top-ranked lifestyle change.

The restaurant’s use of the drive-thru is also likely to play a role in growth. The channel increased views by 9 percent in the year ending in October compared to a year ago, and 23 percent compared to two years ago, according to data from the NPD Group. Brands understand the strength of this off-site vehicle; From a study of 251 restaurant franchise operators in the US, TD Bank found that 45 percent plan to add more self-service locations.

For Wolfgram, those numbers mean reaching a broader customer base, be it vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan, or whatever else.

“It’s exciting when I see someone or talk to a customer who walks by one of our restaurants, and they come in not knowing they were vegetarian, but they decided to give it a try,” says Wolfgram. “When I talk to them on the way to the door, when I hear from them what an ‘aha’ moment it was for them, as consumers, they can take plant-based and it can taste great, they don’t give up any flavor. They are not giving up any satisfaction from having a plant-based meal. “

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.