Expanding Vegan Cafe Finds Thriving Market Throughout US

PALM SPRINGS — Where Native Foods Cafe began in 1994, a vibrant 24-foot-by-6-foot mural of the United States highlights the growth of the vegan restaurant and its 14 current locations.

A grove of three palm trees marks the original eatery at the Smoke Tree Village shopping center in Palm Springs, while signposts identify eight other restaurants in Southern California. Between evergreen trees and the Golden Gate Bridge is a marker for Portland, Ore., and there are signs as well in the shadows of the Rockies (Boulder, Colo.) and iconic skyscrapers (Chicago).

New cities will pop up on the mural soon as Native Foods plans to expand to Texas and the East Coast by the end of 2014, highlighting the thriving market for tasty food that happens to be healthy. While Native Foods and others are growing nationally, local restaurants serving similar fare are blossoming, as well.

“We’re really excited because if we can make a difference and change the way people eat — even if it’s just one meal a week — that’s terrific,” said Andrea McGinty, co-owner of Native Foods.

Six to eight new locations are planned to open by the end of this year, McGinty said, in a variety of cities, including Chicago, Denver, Portland and San Diego. The company, which moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2011 to better orient itself for growth, also expects to plant its roots on the East Coast in Washington.

By the end of 2014, Native Foods plans to have 45 eateries operating in existing markets and new ones, including Baltimore, Dallas and Philadelphia. The company’s five-year plan, launched in October, aims to have 200 restaurants by the fall of 2017.

Chef Tanya Petrovna founded the restaurant in Palm Springs in 1994, and McGinty and Daniel Dolan, her husband and co-owner, bought a majority stake of the company four years ago. The couple primarily live in Rancho Mirage. Petrovna retired in late 2011, McGinty said, and although she still owns part of Native Foods, she is now a silent partner…

Read More: mydesert.com

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