“Top Chef” alum Spike Mendelsohn brings his plant-based fast food concept, PLNT Burger, to Boston this week.
PLNT Burger, located inside Whole Foods in the South End’s Ink Block on Harrison Avenue, will open on Friday, April 22.
Mendelsohn launched PLNT Burger in Maryland in 2019 after partnering with Massachusetts native Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea and CEO of Beyond Meat.
Mendelsohn works a lot on food policy on Capitol Hill, and it was on one of these panels that he met Goldman, who sent him home with his first Beyond Burgers.
“I had never tried anything like this,” Mendelsohn said. “I’ve never seen a veggie burger that cooks like a burger, looks like a burger and eats like a burger.”
From there, PLNT Burger was born, with the goal of being the first “really delicious fast-food burger place that just happens to be plant-based,” Mendelsohn said.
They opened their first location in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2019, and have expanded throughout the DC area (where Mendelson lives with his wife and son) and into Pennsylvania and New York City.
“Boston was an obvious next stop for us,” Mendelsohn said.
Most of its current 10 locations are inside Whole Foods, except for its physical store in New York City.
While everything PLNT Burger sells, from its Beyond Burgers to its sweet potato fries to oatmeal shakes, is made 100% from plants, Mendelsohn said its customer base isn’t actually vegan or vegetarian.
“It’s just people looking to change their diet a little bit,” he said.
Mendelsohn hopes this concept will be popular in Boston as well.
“Most people don’t realize that there are a lot of plant-based people in Boston,” he said, “or that they are at least confused.”
Mendelsohn and Goldman hope PLNT Burger will appeal to plant-based people along with health and environmentally conscious people, as eating plants instead of meat is one of the most environmentally impactful decisions a person can make.
“The food choices we make represent our largest daily environmental footprint, and the Boston area has always been a community that champions thoughtful decision-making and delicious food,” Goldman said in a statement.
PLNT Burger has capitalized on the success of plant-based meat substitutes, plant-based milks like Oatly, and other forms of plant-based eating that have exploded in popularity in recent years.
“You’re seeing plants popping up everywhere, in milks, butters, burgers, in fine dining restaurants,” Mendelsohn said.
“I could easily say I was the chef who rolled his eyes as soon as a vegan order came in,” he said, “but now I get it.”
He said he now appreciates the value of plant-based eating, both on a personal and environmental health level.
“I am passionate about eating right and supporting farmers who are supporting the planet,” said Mendelsohn, who has worked with organizations like DC Central Kitchen, Wholesome Wave and Food Rescue US.
To replenish farmers’ soil so we can continue to have thriving food systems, Mendelsohn said, we need to grow (and eat) more plants overall.
The PLNT Burger Boston Outpost will partner with Lovin’ Spoonfuls Boston, supporting the organization’s mission to salvage and distribute fresh, healthy food that would otherwise be thrown away in the Greater Boston area. As one of its first partnership initiatives, PLNT Burger will donate one Lovin’ Spoonfuls meal for every PLNTY meal sold.
Mendelsohn said the new South End location probably won’t be PLNT Burger’s only location in Boston: They hope to appear in a few more Whole Foods and hope to eventually have a physical store in the city. “You can expect a nice little group of us there,” Mendelsohn said.
For more information, visit plntburger.com.
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