HipCityVeg, the plant-based chain known for fried faux-chicken sandwiches and mushroom “cheesesteaks,” is set to open two more DC locations in the coming months. It’s part of an expansion that will double the Philadelphia-based company’s presence here and across the East Coast.
HipCityVeg already operates restaurants in Chinatown and Dupont, and has five shops in the Philly area. On September 20, the company will open its first delivery-only “go kitchen” in Brentwood to expand its geographic reach. Delivery made up 15 percent of sales pre-pandemic—now, it’s about half. Another dine-in and takeout spot (1201 Half St., SE) will open within a half block from Nats Park in February.
“I really believe that eating plant-based burgers can save the planet. It’s one of the most impactful things we each can do on an individual level,” says CEO and founder Nicole Marquis. “That’s why we’re going all in. And I think this hybrid approach allows us to do it in a way that meets our customers where they really are.”
Marquis says HipCityVeg is seeing record breaking sales company-wide. It’s a huge leap from last March, when the business was forced to lay off around 200 employees following pandemic shutdowns. But Marquis says they were able to rebuild quickly by expanding their delivery platforms, offering value meals, and investing in marketing and advertising when others weren’t. A booming interest in plant-based foods has helped too.
“With the continuing, crushing news about the climate, that has given added urgency for solutions,” Marquis says. She touts that plant-based food is “the single most important thing we can do to fend off this climate crisis.”
While the company at large has thrived, the delay in office openings has been rough on HipCityVeg’s downtown DC spots. In Chinatown, sales are still down by over 20 percent.
“DC hasn’t rebounded as much as Philadelphia has in terms of sales. I think it has to do with DC having more restrictions,” Marquis says. “Pre-pandemic, it was incredible. It’s really why I strongly believe in doubling down in DC.”
Meanwhile, HipCityVeg will soon be adding six more locations between New York and Philadelphia, bringing its total number of stores to 15. Three of those are takeout-only locations.