Plant Power Fast Food to offer vegan selections in Encinitas soon

An upcoming restaurant in Encinitas is hoping to revolutionize the fast-food industry.PlantPlant Power Fast Food, which also has a location in Ocean Beach that opened in January 2016, expects to open a drive-thru style establishment in Encinitas by early May.

All of the food will be free of meat, animal by-products and GMOs, officials said.

“The idea behind Plant Power Fast Food is to be kind of a bridge,” said co-owner Jeffrey Harris, describing the restaurant as a “vegan McDonald’s.” “Obviously, vegans and vegetarians seek us out, but Plant Power is really aimed at everybody who yearns for a healthier choice in the fast-food segment.”

He said vegan and vegetarian food has become popular in recent years because people want to benefit their health and leave a positive impact on their planet.

Selections at Plant Power include vegan burgers (with “beefy” patties, black bean patties or tempeh soy patties), “chicken” tenders, fries, wraps, salads, smoothies and desserts.

The restaurant will also offer “fun” food like the Big Zac, with its take on a vegan McDonald’s Big Mac and named after co-owner Zach Vouga.

“We’re trying to give people the fun tasty fast food experience that a lot of us grew up on,” Harris said.

The menu ranges between $3 and $9.

Harris, who teamed up with co-owners Zach Vouga and Mitch Wallis, a restaurateur, to open Plant Power about two years ago, said his favorite moments are when non-vegans and non-vegetarians try the food and describe it as “the best burger they have ever had.”

Encinitas was the perfect city for the restaurant’s second location, Harris said.

“We wanted to find a location that was part of a community that we know early in our game will help us succeed,” he said. “Encinitas had the kind of qualities we really liked. There’s a history here of health and fitness, some vegetarian restaurants and spirituality.”

The Encinitas location, at 411 Santa Fe Drive, will have a drive-thru and walk-up counter service outside. There will be a dining area outside but no seats inside.

Harris, who became a vegan 21 years ago for animal welfare, said he believes Plant Power has a “wow factor” that has been appealing to people who don’t live solely on plant-based diets.

“Really, the bottom line for us is we know when someone drives into Plant Power, most people aren’t vegan or vegetarian,” he said. “They’re used to McDonald’s. I was a kid who ate McDonald’s. There’s a taste to Big Macs and Quarter Pounders. The wow factor is huge. If someone doesn’t have a great experience right away, they’re not going to come back. Based on what our customers are telling us, we think we have the best taste.”

David Munoz, an investor in Plant Power, said he feels the restaurant is on the cusp of a new trend, in a service model that won’t go away anytime soon.

“With the mobile society, there’s no way that convenient fast food isn’t going to be a part of society,” Munoz said. “It has to be.”

Harris said the goal is to open more Plant Power restaurants across the country, adding he has already received requests from multiple cities.

“These first two restaurants are really just concepts for what we envision is possible,” he said. “We want to revolutionize fast food. We want it to go from quick and easy but not necessarily good for you to something that’s quick and easy that’s actually great for you.”

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