Here's four local restaurants that have kindly helped support Ecochella from supplying our hungry bikers with fresh fare to donating prizes for our Instagram challenges. Get the low down on the people behind these restaurants, the must-order items and some awesome programs that they've developed to give back to their communities. 

1. Veggie Grill 

What's the Deal? 

Veggie Grill founder T.K. Pillan says that he and cofounder Kevin Boylan founded Veggie Grill with the goal of making healthy vegetarian food "fun, friendly, and approachable" and they're doing that by fashioning healthy vegetarian ingredients into familiar American comfort food.  

Behind the scenes

The founders of this plant-based restaurant weren't always vegans. Pillan and Boylan started out as an MIT grad tech entrepreneur and a business investor who knew little about plant-based food and nothing about the restaurant business. However, in the process of building Veggie Grill from the ground up, they've become veggie enthusiasts who are dedicated to introducing wholesome food to a wide variety of people, especially people who might not normally try let alone eat vegan food. 

How'd They Do It?

Once they saw that there was a market for convenient, healthy food, the next step was research— and not your typical "research." Pillan and Boylan traveled around Southern California, San Francisco, and New York on an epic food tour trying out every healthy restaurant they could find (sign me up please!). 

What Should You Order? 

Who better to offer advice than the creators themselves? Boylan says that picking his favorite Veggie Grill dish is "kind of like saying which of your children is your favorite" but if he had to choose just one... he recommends the Santa Fe Crispy Chick'n Sandwich. It looks like plant protein glory!  

 Vegetarian comfort food lovers rejoice! 

Vegetarian comfort food lovers rejoice! 

 

2. Tender Greens

What's the Deal? 

Tender Greens says they like to make "slow food done fast." They're all about translating their fine dining point of view into a casual, quick meal option. With almost all of their produce picked daily from Scarborough Farms, Tender Greens provides people with high quality, wholesome food in a way that fits into the modern urbanite's hectic schedule. 

Helpful hint: be sure to visit the Hollywood location to see their aeroponic tower garden growing some fresh veggies!

Fun fact: Aeroponic towers use up to 95% less water than field farming. 

Community-Minded

One awesome initiative at Tender Greens is their Sustainable Life Project. It offers a 6-month internship to emancipated foster youth. Students experience restaurant work, culinary arts classes, farm tours, and life skills workshops. When they graduate, they are also eligible to work as full-time employees at Tender Greens. It's one way that Tender Greens is making an effort to work not just "in" a community, but with it, all while using food as an agent for social change. 

What Should You Order? 

The Happy Vegan salad is a customer favorite— and it looks delish. 

3. Panera Bread 

What's the Deal? 

Panera started thirty years ago with a simple goal: to bake fresh bread from fresh dough every day with no artificial preservatives or short cuts, and at the end of the day donate what was left to neighbors in need. 

Since then, they've stayed true to their original intention kept coming up with more good ideas even as they've grown. Check it out: 

Know of a group or organization that could benefit from Panera's Day-end Dough-Nation food recovery program? Here's the link to their donation request form.

What Should You Order? 

Definitely have some of their fresh-baked bread— be it in sandwich, pastry, or soup bread-bowl form!  

 

3. Cava Grill 

What's the Deal? 

Greek food is nothing new to the creators of Cava Grill because they grew up eating it in their Greek and Mediterranean-American households. Now, they've created a restaurant that merges inspiration from traditional Greek food and California farm-to-table freshness. Many of its producers are less than a few hours away from their restaurants, so the food travels as directly as possible from the farm to your fork. 

Giving back

Here in LA, Cava Grill has also partnered with Garden School Foundation, whose Seed to Table program offers garden-based education to under-served youth, using outdoor living classrooms to better connect education, health, environmental awareness, and community need. 

Who Came Up With This?

The Cava founders are— get this— actually childhood friends. Ike Grigoropoulos, Chef Dimitri Moshovitis, and Ted Xenohristos started Cava Grill in celebration of the flavors of their families’ traditional Greek and Mediterranean cooking. 

What Should You Order? 

The nice thing about Cava Grill is that you totally customize your dish. Make sure to take advantage of all their yummy dips and toppings! Or treat yourself to a fresh juice!

 Dips galore! 

Dips galore! 

Comment