You get a healthy restaurant! And you get a healthy restaurant! And you get a healthy restaurant! That's perhaps how Oprah Winfrey would have announced her “significant equity investment” in a rising restaurant chain on her former talk show. But despite lacking the live audience to cheer on the announcement, Winfrey has made big news as the most recent investor in the Phoenix-based chain True Food Kitchen. The news was announced yesterday.
Winfrey's investment will help the chain, founded by Dr. Andrew Weil, with its ambitious expansion plans. The chain boasts 23 locations currently, mostly in California and Texas. Its focus supports a Weil-approved “anti-inflammatory” diet, that largely focuses on seasonal, locally-grown menu items. The menu changes several times a year and has a number of vegetarian and gluten-free options. True Food Kitchen bills itself as “conscious casual.” Think high ceilings, lots of natural light, and a loft-like Instagram foodie feel with generous salads, vegetable-forward appetizers and mains, and juicy beverages and trendy wines.
According to the chain's CEO Christine Barone, Winfrey first dined at the Palo Alto, Calif., location and again at the Santa Monica outfit before her team contacted Barone.
Winfrey is now not only an investor in the privately-held business but the eighth member of its board of directors, according to Ad Age. Winfrey "has made a significant investment in the company." Barone clarified: "By that, I mean significant for us as a company." Just exactly how much she's invested has not been revealed.
"As we plan to double in size over the next three years, we will be opening up a significant number of restaurants and really do need financing to help fund that growth," says Barone.
The investment is not Winfrey's first foray into the food world. She's been involved with Weight Watchers since 2015 as an investor and board member, and last year, she launched the "O, That's Good!" line of prepared dishes with Kraft Heinz. But that brand's been fairly quiet in recent months.
With the investment, True Food Kitchen says it plans to open another 20+ locations by the end of 2021.
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