VeggieGrill Draws Fans, Who May Have to Wait
“I’m sorry, we don’t franchise at this point,” replied Greg Dollarhyde, chief energizing officer of VeggieGrill, to my email inquiry.
That will likely disappoint the people crowding around him after his talk at the Restaurant Finance & Development Conference, where his lean physique was a walking testament to the plant-based diet of the sensational West Coast concept.
Chief among the fans was Alexis Walsko, founder of Lola Red Public Relations in Minneapolis. A first-time attendee at the conference, Walsko stood out in the crowd with her platinum blonde hair and retro-glam style. “We must get this concept to Minneapolis,” she told me with passion after talking with Dollarhyde. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, and I’m betting she finds a way.
Dollarhyde talked about how operators can raise capital to fund their emerging concepts, and he emphasized the importance of matching the stability of the capital with the riskiness in the brand.
For example, debt works well when funding the expansion of a well-known, established restaurant, say Taco Bell. But for a young concept like VeggieGrill, equity investors are called for, those have the patience to stay at the table and the stomach for the risk.
Dollarhyde believes all the trends are going VeggieGrill’s way, from the healthy eating movement to the local food craze. Plus, he believes, producing beef, cattle and pigs takes too many resources to sustain. “I think it’s a huge runway” for VeggieGrill, he says, considering “just the bare facts. It takes 480 gallons of water to make a hamburger.”