Operator behind Sydney vegan food chain Soul Burger aims to raise $1.6m

Operator behind Sydney vegan food chain Soul Burger aims to raise $1.6m

Vegan Food Hub CEO and founder Amit Tewari (Provided)

Update (5 June, 2023): Prior to publication of the original article Amit Tewari told Business News Australia that there would be a target raise for $1.6 million on Birchal, but has since advised that the aim is to raise $1 million on the crowdfunding platform and a further $600,000 from private investors that is already secured. 

A Sydney-based company on a mission to champion vegan comfort food nationwide is gearing up to raise $1 million on equity crowdfunding platform Birchal as it looks to expand its restaurant portfolio and double its location headcount by 2025.

Founded in 2015 by Amit Tewari, Vegan Food Hub (VFH) is the operator of cult burger chain Soul Burger, fast-casual vegan Mexican concept Plantas Taqueria and Zaynas Lebanese, which have collectively generated more than $20 million since the company’s inception.

Soul Burger has four locations across New South Wales, with stores in Parramatta, Glebe, Newtown and Randwick. Plantas and Zaynas are delivery-only concepts that began operating in 2022 and 2023 respectively, with the food prepared in existing Soul kitchens.

Through the contribution of private investors in addition to the Birchal raise, Vegan Food Hub plans to raise up to $1.6 million to optimise current operations and open two physical locations for Plantas Taqueria and Zaynas Lebanese in Sydney by 2025.

The founder and CEO is also looking to break into Brisbane and Melbourne and operate a total of 40 restaurants under the VFH banner by 2028.

“We don’t want to make the mistake so many groups make, and start growing fast and spreading too thin,” Tewari said.

“We want to have a serious presence in Sydney first, across all our brands. Then we’ll look at interstate growth, and we’ll do it store by store and in clusters.

“We want to maintain brilliant food, value and customer experience – those are the pillars to our success”.

Launched in 2015, Soul Burger is VFH's first food brand.

 

To reach customers and circumvent third-party apps like UberEats, VFH has developed its mobile app and online webstore that hosts all three of its vegan brands.

The app allows customers to order GPS-trackable direct delivery from any of their brands within 10km of store locations, giving VFH its own data while avoiding the 30 per cent commission fee typically charged by other delivery services.  

“We hope to build the world’s most compelling quick service brands, completely plant-based, and to do this, we need to master delivery,” Tewari said.

“Delivery is the present and the future, and our time and investment in building a 33,000-membership database is our way of ensuring we keep our delivery business profitable and allow our customers to get access to cheaper prices. It’s a genuine win-win.

“Once the operations are down pat, and the brand has proven demand and gained a following, we can build physical locations for it and take the brand to the next level.”

To help execute their growth plans, VFH has brought on ex-Sony executive Michael Ephraim in an investor and advisory capacity.

Ephraim joined Sony in 1992 and finished his career with the tech giant 24 years later, spending the majority of this time there as managing director.

“We’re really excited to bring on Michael to bolster our managing team and help us direct sustainable growth of VFH brands throughout Australia,” Tewari said.

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