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Inside Kernel, where culinary and tech meet in a new fast-casual model

Chipotle founder Steve Ells’ plant-powered concept pairs a chef-driven commissary kitchen with automated onsite prep and a unique brand of hospitality.

Behind the Menu: The fast casual uses a mushroom-based meat alternative for its Philly Shroomsteak Sandwich, a new menu item targeted to flexitarians, not just vegans.

The four-unit Hart House plans to more than double in size this year, and some of that growth might come from an acquisition.

The move comes less than six months after Veggie Grill closed 12 restaurants amid declining sales. The deal creates a 27-unit plant-based restaurant company.

Expected to open in February, Kernel will attempt to reinvent the team member experience. Brand president Stephen Goldstein describes how the concept is designed to benefit both the planet and workers.

The fast-growing chain expands its core menu for the first time since its start as a parking lot pop-up seven years ago.

The fast casual collaborated with Amanda Cohen, chef-owner of the NYC vegan restaurant, to develop the limited-time salad.

Behind the Menu: Since the fast casual’s start in 2006, many new meat and dairy alternatives have come to market and consumers’ health perceptions have changed. Veggie Grill has been forced to change too.

The 12-unit Massachusetts plant-based chain sought debt protection after sales didn’t recover as expected and financing froze just as it kicked off expansion plans.

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