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Is the mainstream ready for plant-forward catering?

Photograph courtesy of Veggie Grill

Although the restaurant mainstream has lagged behind colleges and universities in embracing plant-forward foods, streetside chains of all stripes are racing to catch up. A case in point: the launch of a meat-, dairy- and egg-free catering menu by vegetarian fast casual Veggie Grill.

In the same week Burger King announced it would offer a meatless Whopper and McDonald’s hinted it, too, might add an analog burger, 34-store Veggie Grill rolled out a menu of plant-forward burgers, “chickin’” sandwiches, platters and finger foods, including what it’s calling chicken wings.

The items are premium-priced. A box of 12 Beyond Meat burgers, for instance, sells for $129.95, almost $11 per sandwich. A serving of taco salad that serves 18 to 20 people is offered for $64.95.

Other signature items include a platter of 48 “wings” for $79.95 and a dozen Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ Sandwiches for $99.95.

The chain is aiming for the business meetings market with a boxed lunch consisting of a sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a cookie for $15.95 each, with an order minimum of eight meals. The sandwich choices are the mock chicken, a “blta” (veggie bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado on sourdough bread) and a falafel wrap.

Bottled water is offered as a beverage.

Veggie Grill is betting the offer of a meatless array will give it an attractive point of distinction in the streetside catering market, which is growing increasingly competitive as chain after chain explores that variation of off-premise business.

The chain currently requires catering customers to pick up their orders, but says it is working with at least one third party to offer delivery. 

Several of Veggie Grill’s restaurants are located on or near college campuses. Earlier this year, the chain struck a partnership with Sodexo to open more units in C&U locations.

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