Let’s admit it: We love fast food. American adults get about 11.3 percent of their total daily calories from fast food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For many consumers, the convenience of a quick burger or chicken sandwich is worth the extra calories—not to mention the loads of salt and sugar that come with a typical fast-food meal.
That might be changing in the near future, though. You might already know about Amy’s Kitchen, since the company’s all-vegetarian products can be found in many U.S. grocery stores. Maybe you’ve tried one of their cheddar burritos, a veggie burger, or a microwavable meal. But recently, Amy’s Kitchen broke out of the chilly confines of the freezer section.
The company now operates a brick-and-mortar fast-food restaurant—complete with a drive-thru window—in Sonoma County, California.
The restaurant, located in Rohnert Park, California, features a barn-like look and chic decor.
The interior is decked out with shades of turquoise contrasted by bright orange, giving Amy’s a unique look that you won’t find at any other fast-food joint. The food is affordable. The Amy—a double-veggie burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and a secret sauce—costs $4.29. Vegan consumers can choose vegan-friendly “cheese” for their burgers, or could opt for Amy’s Mac ‘n Cheeze for $4.69 instead.
Customers can also pick up pizzas (both vegan and vegetarian), chili, burritos, and, of course, salads. Everything is vegetarian, and everything’s geared toward diet-conscious diners. That’s not to say that everything is low in calories, but in general, you’ll find healthier options than what you’d get at your local burger joint. The menu options are also environmentally sustainable, according to the company’s website. All the packaging is compostable, and even the straws for the milkshakes are made from biodegradable paper. “My parents had an organic garden in L.A. in the ’50s and they taught me to always eat healthy and to never eat things I couldn’t pronounce,” Rachel Berliner, who founded the company with her husband Andy, told CBS News.
Andy told CBS that he knew the restaurant was a “real risk.” “I still had trouble visualizing people coming to an organic vegetarian drive-thru,” he admitted. “And they just—they were lined up around the block.”
Currently, the only way to try Amy’s Drive Thru is to visit the Rohnert Park location.
However, the restaurant’s popularity will likely prompt expansion. Business blog Fast Company reports that Amy’s Kitchen is planning a second location and suggests we could see the all-veggie approach spreading quickly throughout the United States.
The market for vegetarian- and vegan-friendly foods is expanding, according to a report from information analysis company GlobalData. The firm’s research showed that 6 percent of Americans claim to follow a vegan lifestyle, up from 1 percent in 2014. Because Amy’s Drive Thru also offers gluten-free options, they could appeal to another growing market. The Gluten-Free Agency reports that 44 million people adhere to gluten-free diets.
But Amy’s biggest market might not have specific dietary considerations; they might just be typical American adults looking for a fast, affordable, and healthy meal. For the founders of Amy’s Kitchen, that’s perfectly fine. “If somebody’s hungry, I want to feed them,” Rachel told CBS. “I can be in a meeting and I hear in the background, ‘Oh, I’m really hungry,’ I’ll say excuse me, I’ve got to go feed this person.”