Popular for its delicious, convenient comfort food, Veggie Grill is about to open its first location outside of Southern California in Beaverton, Oregon.

As it moves into the Portland market, Veggie Grill is pleased to announce its partnership with long-time restaurant developer Ed Casey. Based in Portland and an Oregon resident for more than 20 years, Casey’s experience is in building upon emerging trends in the restaurant industry.

When Casey discovered Veggie Grill, he found the perfect fit for the adventurous Portland consumer: a concept at once healthful, food-centric, and fun. Casey didn’t hesitate to join the Veggie Grill team and push expansion forward in the Pacific Northwest.

As a joint venture partner, Casey will develop Veggie Grill restaurants in Oregon, opening the first location in January of 2012, followed by a second in May.

“I’m excited to bring the Veggie Grill and this concept to life in my home market,” says Casey, who developed, owned, and operated more than 25 Baja Fresh Mexican Grill franchises in the Pacific Northwest.

Casey previously introduced Oregon to Applebee’s, in 1993 in a franchise venture, and to T.G.I. Fridays in 1980. Casey also served as president/CEO of the Counter, a 2008 National Restaurant Association’s Hot Concept winner, and was recognized by the Oregon Restaurant Association in 2002 as Restaurateur of the Year.

As this is Veggie Grill’s first expansion outside of its home turf in California, this partnership is critical.

“Ed’s expertise is invaluable to our introduction into this new market. We are excited to be working with him as we branch out into the Pacific Northwest,” says CEO Greg Dollarhyde, who notes that they will open three locations in the Portland area by the end of 2012.

They have already started construction on their second location, near downtown Portland. The partnership between Management Development, Inc. and Veggie Grill will be substantially financed by The Veggie Grill.

The first location will open in Beaverton, home to NIKE, Inc., and the second in the downtown financial district. Casey is also currently in negotiations on two other locations in Portland and the surrounding communities, including in and around Washington state.

Since 2006, Veggie Grill has been redefining American comfort food with its100 percent plant-based cuisine. The restaurant chain’s mission is to break the stereotype of bland vegetarian food by combining hearty, plant-based proteins with bold marinades and sauces in familiar menu items that people can enjoy every day. Signature menu items include the “Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’” sandwich, “Sweetheart Fries,” and the “All Hail Kale” salad. All Veggie Grill locations offer a kid’s menu and wine and beer selection.

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