Actor and comedian Kevin Hart continues to expand his growing business portfolio. His latest startup is outside of entertainment. He is set to open the first of his plant-based restaurants, Hart House.
The inaugural location is in Los Angeles and will open its doors on Aug. 25 in the city’s Westchester neighborhood. Hart House is pegged to open in several locations and wants to compete with fast food giants such as McDonald’s in offering non-meat alternatives.
But Hart House will probably butt heads with another Black-owned plant-based chain, Slutty Vegan. Slutty Vegan is a vegan hamburger restaurant chain based in Atlanta, and owned by Aisha “Pinky” Cole. Cole has been raising investment funds to expand nationwide and is soon set to open in Brooklyn, New York.
Hart House’s menus is entirely plant-based and feature such items as serves burgers, chick’n sandwiches, salads, tenders, fries, tots, and milkshakes that are all made without antibiotics, hormones, artificial colors, preservatives, or high-fructose corn syrup.
Plant-based eateries are on the upswing. According to data from wellness-focused data firm SPINS, the total plant-based food market represented about $7.4 billion in revenue in 2021, up 6 percent over the previous year.
The company joins a string of other quick-service concepts that are trying to scale nationally with plant-based alternatives to fast-food staples like burgers and chicken sandwiches.
Andy Hooper, CEO and founding partner at Hart House, told Nation’s Restaurant News that the plant-based movement has struggled to take off in the limited-service sector because it’s hard to crack the habits, behaviors, and perceptions of the average American consumer, who likely eats fast food at least on a monthly if not weekly basis. The key to doing so, he said, is serving “absolutely delicious, craveable food” that appeals to vegans and carnivores alike.
Hart is the face of the brand and has taken an active role in the restaurant’s development, from signing off on menu items to assisting in employee training.
“If you fast forward 10 years, I am convinced that a huge percentage of what people eat will be plant-based, not out of virtue, but out of necessity, out of supply chain, certainly out of health and wellness,” he said. “Our perspective is like, why not go there first through taste and craveability more than anything so that people understand that they actually don’t have to give anything up, including their existing fast food?”
Mike Salem, formerly the head of culinary innovation at Burger King, has signed on to work with Hart House.
According to Veganconomist, burg’rs and chick’n sandwiches are at the $5, $6, $7 price point.
Image: screenshot from Hart House @myharthouse on Twitter, https://twitter.com/myharthouse/status/1560386689222131712?s=20&t=5N4g-3SDWPCNzwmW8tLVbQ