Singapore’s VeganBurg to open San Francisco outpost

An artist’s impression of the new VeganBurg store in San Francisco. — TODAY pic
An artist’s impression of the new VeganBurg store in San Francisco. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, July 16 — The United States will get a taste of one of Singapore’s culinary treats in October. No, it’s not laska, chilli crab or chicken rice. It’s VeganBurg, the family-owned vegetarian burger restaurant, which will open an outlet at Haight Street in San Francisco, its first outpost outside Singapore.

“As a proudly Singapore born and bred company, we are very excited to embark on our new journey,” said Alex Tan, VeganBurg’s chief executive, in a statement. “We want to combine the Singaporean entrepreneur spirit and American steadfast business ethics. We chose the US as our first market mainly because it is a country that is leading the world in terms of change and revolution.”

The company, which started in 2010, has been on a journey to “redefine food pop culture and comfort food” with its 100 per cent plant-based menu. Jonathan Tan, a spokesperson for the company, said they had considered a few locations in the States, but “we really only had two locations in mind: Greenwich Village in New York City or Haight-Ashbury, California”. In the end, VeganBurg chose a location on Haight Street, housed in a building more than 100 years old.

“Going to the right location is very important and we eventually chose Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco because of the abundance of fresh and local wholesome and organic farm produce,” said Jonathan. “Second, the city itself is vibrant with a supportive community and a thumping desire for change and an open community that embraces the idea of a plant-based lifestyle. Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco stands for what VeganBurg is all about. It’s a historic location and it’s known for love, peace, freedom and equality.”

One of the challenges in securing the outlet was time. “It was difficult working with the limited time available on our tourist visa to source for the right location and make a decision on where to set up base,” said Jonathan. “Another challenge was to marry VeganBurg’s raw industrial safari theme, with a touch of chic, with the rich Bohemian hippie culture that the Haight is known for.”

Of course, it remains to be seen if VeganBurg — which claims among its fans personalities such as Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders), DJ Steve Aoki, singer Belinda Carlisle, health guru Tara Stiles and rock band Deftones — can achieve success in America. However, Jonathan said that the restaurant can “bridge the gap between junk food and a wholesome plant-based diet that is long missing in San Francisco”.

“Eateries there are already conscious of the importance of such a diet, incorporating such dishes in their menus. Our Vegan Burgers will catalyse that revolution,” he added.

“We can’t change the fast food system — but we can change what goes in it,” said Alex.

For their overseas debut, VeganBurg will be using much of the same menu as the one in Singapore, although it will localising some items, such as Kombucha from taps, classic milkshakes, soft-serve ice cream and cheesecakes. But Jonathan said they’re looking to incorporate those items in the Singapore menu, too.

“We will explore the possibility of making them available in Singapore as well in time to come,” he said, adding that diners here can also look forward to more VeganBurg joints. “We are on the lookout for new locations that will fit our operational needs. That should happen in the coming year.” — TODAY