The team behind Veggie Grill has broken ground in Culver City on their vegan burger concept, Stand-Up Burgers, which is expected to open at the corner of Washington Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd. on Wednesday, June 15.
The sassy younger vegan sister in the Veggie Grill restaurant family, Stand-Up Burgers is a more indulgent version of the plant-based chain and Culver City will be the brand’s fourth location, with others in Berkeley and Chicago.
While Veggie grill has a more diverse menu with salads and bowls, the 100% plant-based Stand-Up aims to satisfy every burger craving including Tex Mex, BBQ, bacon, chili cheese plus tots and hot dogs. The shakes are oat milk-based and come in traditional vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mocha flavors as well as monthly specials like a mellow yellow CBD shake with pureed strawberries, whipped cream and vegan gummy bears.
Breaking vegan ground, Veggie Grill opened its first location in 2006 in Irvine by founder and chairman, T.K. Pillan. He sold his tech business in 2004, reflecting on life and the planet and what to do next. Inspired by his mother, who was a registered dietician and holistic food-as-medicine practitioner, Pillan began exploring how to prevent illness through food.
He started looking at a fundamental piece of American culture, which was eating out at iconic restaurant brands and studied the idea of a plant-based version. Meat analogues were getting more advanced at replicating the satisfaction one could get from meat without cholesterol or animal fat and he came across the negative effects of factory farming, ranging from what it does to the environment to animal treatment. Pillan found that the meat alternatives done in the right way could satisfy the same cravings without all the damage. So with zero restaurant experience, he opened Veggie Grill.
“It’s amazing how far veganism has come in terms of availability and acceptance,” Pillan tells L.A. Weekly. “I wasn’t a restaurateur but I had this underlying belief that once people discovered the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle they would really embrace it and luckily that has happened. I became really passionate about bringing that concept to life. After the pandemic people are taking a step back and looking at their health and the health of the planet, especially the younger generation. They’re trying to understand what they can do to make a difference and what we eat is a big part of it. It’s substantial what factory farming contributes to in greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, land and water use. Today we have 30 Veggie Grills and three Stand-Up Burgers. We’re going to open five Stand-up Burgers this year across L.A. and New York and start looking for franchise partners. The world wasn’t ready for plant-based burgers in 2006, but it’s ready now.”