Dharma Southern Kitchen, a vegan comfort food restaurant based in Orlando, FL, has announced it is expanding in Florida throughout 2022, and embarking on a strategic growth plan for the Southeast US and beyond in 2023. Through a new investment fund campaign, the chain intends to open company or franchise locations in every major US city in the next five to eight years.
Southern with a vegan twist
Dharma says it differs from most vegan fast-casual concepts by focusing on “down-home” comfort fare like fried chick’n, mac ‘n cheese, grits and slaw. The chain’s top-selling items include:
- Nashville “Hawt” – Spicy fried chik’n with pickles and white BBQ slaw
- The Orange Bird – Florida citrus BBQ chik’n topped with roasted garlic sauce
- Biscuits n’ Gravy – Homemade rosemary biscuits, country gravy and maple glazed “sausage”
- Florida Fried Green Tomato – Breaded and deep-fried sliced green tomatoes
Dharma’s prices start at $3.50 for side dishes and range up to $16 for meals.
Ready to scale
Founded by chef Shaun Noonan, the concept originally blossomed from a popular hot dog cart, The Vegan Hot Dog Cart, that has been serving Orlando for 25 years. Dharma opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2015 and has since added locations in Tampa and Sanford, with a 4th location opening in April.
After years of growth in Central Florida, the brand believes it is now well-positioned to begin expanding on a national scale. On its StartEngine crowdfunding page, anyone with $190 can invest in the brand, and Dharma is making possible franchising opportunities available for “master franchisers”.
A family restaurant
Beyond serving tasty “fine vittles”, Dharma says its establishment has gained a loyal fan base by offering a uniquely inviting, family-friendly atmosphere.
“We stand out in the market because of our commitment to giving communities space to sit down and enjoy our delicious, affordable cookin’ together,” the chain states, adding: “Everything that comes out of our scratch kitchen is made with love, servin’ up food like your mama used to make it. We use sustainable packaging and practices in our restaurants, and we provide genuine guest service served up with classic southern hospitality.”