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Native Foods Shifts to Employee Ownership at Its Three Remaining Locations in the US

Vegan fast-casual chain Native Foods has announced a major shift in its business model, transitioning its three remaining locations into employee-owned entities following the closure of eight locations in 2023.

At its peak in 2015 Native Foods operated 26 branches across the United States, and since has faced a substantial downsizing, now retaining only three locations in Chicago, IL; Palm Springs, CA; and Glendale, CO. 

Daniel Dolan, CEO of Native Foods, spoke with What Now Los Angeles about last year’s closures. “The fact of the matter is, following Covid, we no longer need spaces with 150 seats. With the rising percentage of take-out orders, the rent for a space that large just isn’t feasible…so we’ll be downsizing all across the board,” Dolan explained.

Native Foods employee ownership
© Native Foods

Employees take the helm

Michael Oivas, a former Assistant Manager who began his journey with the company in 2014, has taken ownership of the Glendale, Colorado, location. The Palm Springs, California branch is now under the leadership of Misti Rausch and Sean Reynolds, both long-term employees since 2013 and 2014, respectively. The Chicago location sees Dame Dia, a culinary professional with the company since 2018, stepping up as the new owner. Native Foods shared on its social media, “With 15 years of culinary excellence, Dame’s journey to ownership is a testament to dedication and passion.”

Similar chains have also been downsizing and closing locations worldwide, including vegan fast food chain Neat Burger and RIP Foods in Spain, citing financial difficulties and a struggle to remain competitive.

Native Foods states that this new operational model will allow the fast food chain to continue its mission to “Help us change the way the world eats, one plant-based meal at a time,” under the dedicated leadership of owners who believe in the company’s vital role in the vegan movement. 

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