Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen, because according to Project Pollo founder Lucas Bradbury, 2022 is the year of the vegan chicken.
Chicken is the second most eaten protein in the US after pork. The mass farming industry is under the microscope for it is questionable protein sourced from unethically raised animals pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.
There is no doubt that plant-based chicken is better for the planet but is so much more expensive. This problem is where Bradbury saw a business opportunity; he wanted to give Americans affordable access to plant-based chicken alternatives.
Project Pollo (pollo, Spanish for chicken) is the result of his hard work. A fast food chain that serves vegan, plant-based meat in all its menu offerings. Bradbury partnered with TiNDLE, a company that uses ingredients such as soy, sunflower oil, and coconut oil to manufacture synthetic chicken. The end product has the same texture as chicken without all the unhealthy added MSG, cholesterol, hormones, antibiotics, and artificial colors.
What started with a food truck on the streets of San Antonio in 2020 has exploded in two years with over 20 brick-and-mortar locations across Texas, including San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Bradbury came into the Tank with an unbelievable ask of $2.5 million for 5% equity, valuing Project Pollo as an astronomical $50 million!
The Sharks were genuinely blown out of the water by that enormous number; it was one of the highest to date. Despite agreeing that Bradbury’s fried offerings were making some of the best vegan chicken they had ever had, they could not wrap their head around the valuation.
Top that off with his breakneck speed of opening an 11th and 12th location within that year; the Sharks were convinced he was too risky to the point of reckless.
Barbury explained that Project Pollo had made over $3 million from the eight locations currently in operation, and he had a background in the restaurant business, working with a Norwegian plant-based eatery in the past. But it wasnt enough to convince Barbara, Lori, and Kevin Hart, who were out before Bradbury could finish.
Mark and Kevin O’Leary were still stuck on the valuation; they felt it was unjustified because Project Pollo didn’t have the $10 million in sales to back it up. Mark was also convinced that the fried faux chicken was not healthy enough to last long in the vegan world, where nutrition was equally important. They were out, too, ending Project Pollo’s time in the Tank.
Bradbury walked out without any investment, but his appearance on Shark Tank brought his vegan fast food chain into the spotlight, ultimately boosting sales.
Our Review of Project Pollo
Project Pollo’s is all about affordable, fast food with a menu jam-packed with delicious vegan fried chicken (spelled chikn) sandwiches, grilled chikn burgers, chikn wings, sides, sauces, and a kid’s menu. Their offerings are some of the best, and you can hardly tell you are eating synthetic chicken. It feels and tastes like the real deal! Their Nashville Hot Chicken and Original Project are hands down some of the best vegan chicken sandwiches out there.
And the commitment to plant-based ingredients doesn’t stop there; even the milkshake is made of oat milk, oat milk-based soft serve, and coconut-based whipped topping.
Pros of Project Pollo
- Vegan, plant-based chicken
- Same price point as other fast food chains that serve real chicken
- Good menu selection
- No antibiotics or hormones in the faux meat
Cons of Project Pollo
- Not soy-free
- Not gluten-free
- Food items are high in calories
Who is Project Pollo For?
Project Pollo is for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone with meat-related dietary restrictions, such as kosher and halal.
It is also an excellent choice for any environmentally conscious individual concerned about the mass farming industry’s global impact, sustainability, and the unethical treatment of livestock.
Are There Any Alternatives?
The plant-based chicken manufacturers are partnering with vegetarian and vegan restaurants to cater to the ever-growing market of environmentally conscious fast food aficionados.
With locations more focused on the East and West Coasts, these restaurants are now expanding inland throughout the country. Some alternatives within the Long Horn State are listed below.
With an impressive variety of Tex-Mex offerings, Korny Vibes is more than fast food. This restaurant has everything from tacos to fried chicken burgers and sandwiches, all vegan, of course. Based in Houston, their extensive menu has made it vegan food heaven. Learn more on their website.
This restaurant partnered with Atlas Monroe, the world’s largest plant-based vegan chicken manufacturer, to offer a selection of vegan chicken tenders, sandwiches, salads, and tater tot boxes. With two locations in Texas and more opening soon, Birdguesa is steadily making a name for itself in the vegan fast food market. Check out their website for location information and the menu.
Fun fact, Atlas Monroe founder Deborah Torres also appeared on Shark Tank a season before Project Pollo, where she walked away from a $1 million buy-out offer from Mark Cuban.
With over 4,000 locations across the country, America’s largest fried chicken fast food chain has partnered with Beyond Meat to join the vegan chicken party. They launched Beyond Fried Chicken, fried vegan chicken packed with KFC’s top secret spice and herb mix. Learn more on their website.
Our Final Thoughts
There is no question that plant-based meat alternatives have the ability to take over the mass farming industry and are only held back by the high cost of manufacturing, which is the main reason a majority of Americans stick to cheaper traditional fast food.
The Sharks might disagree with Bradbury’s chaotic business style, but there must be some method to his madness because Project Pollo shows record sales, proving that people are interested in vegan meat. With more locations opening soon in Las Vegas, Colorado, and Arizona, it is clear that Project Pollo wants to become synonymous with fast food fried (vegan) chicken, and hopefully, one day, it will.