Restaurant News: Make Out concept gets early equity investment

Published in Restaurant News

Just weeks after it debuted in Los Angeles, the plant-based Make Out concept has received a significant equity investment that sets the stage for growth, officials said Monday.

Make Out is a fast-casual concept with fresh juices and a plant-based menu created in part by chef Matthew Kenney, a long-time promoter of raw cuisine. The concept debuted in the Culver City neighborhood in May.

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Last week, the company signed a deal with international financier Pierre Bastid, who will join Make Out interim CEO Antony Besso and creative operations director Michel Francoeur to grow the brand.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Besso said Bastid’s commitment would eventually constitute a majority stake, if all goes as planned.

“I profoundly believe in the future of plant-based cuisine and the need to make it more available,” Bastid said in a statement. “Make Out brings fast-casual vegan food to a new level. I’m thrilled to enter this partnership and grow Make Out’s presence in Southern California.”

Make Out taps a growing trend toward vegan dining, even by “flexitarians,” who may eat meat but are looking for more vegetable-based dining opportunities, Besso said.

“We’re making plant-based dishes for people in a hurry,” Besso said. “In our view, there’s a space left in the market, a reasonably sized space, for that kind of quality plant-based food.”

Make Out specializes in cold-pressed juices, as well as a selection of wraps, salads and parfaits that are vegan, gluten- and dairy-free. A delivery program will launch later this summer.

Besso said the average check is about $20 with a juice drink.

The goal is to open three to five more units in Southern California over the next couple of years, Besso said. “We’d love to see this as a national brand,” he said.

For now, the plan is to grow company-owned locations only. “In the future, who knows,” Besso said. “Franchising is a different game, but we may be open to it in the future.”

Besso said Bastid has investments in a number of industries, but is moving more into the hospitality sector. Bastid is an investor in the new Evok Hotels Collection in Europe, which is being developed in partnership with renowned designer Philippe Starck.

Kenney separately attempted a version of Make Out as a full-service concept called M.A.K.E. in Santa Monica Place mall, with a take-out kiosk called M.A.K.E. Out, but those locations closed last year.

Earlier this month, Kenney opened Plant Food and Wine in the Abbot Kinney neighborhood of Venice, Calif. The full-service restaurant also features a plant-based menu, along with an extensive wine list, and is home to the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, which offers raw food cooking classes.

In Belfast, Maine, Kenney has the restaurant The Gothic. A new concept called White Lotus is coming to Miami, according to his website.

This story has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 24, 2015  This story has been clarified to include that the earlier attempt at the Make Out concept was full service. Additionally, Plant Food and Wine does not have a full bar.

Read the original story in Restaurant News

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