Vegan fast food outlet planned for Winnipeg

Coinciding with World Vegan Month, one local start-up project is looking to bring fast-food vegan options to Winnipeg.

Filmmaker and “plant-based food ambassador” Dana Giesbrecht is the owner of ilikeitraw.com and has created a documentary and diet program under the name.
Giesbrecht said with her next project, I Like it a Raw restaurant, she wants to help make vegan options more accessible in the city.

“There was a moment that I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to give this a shot and bring this food that I’m so passionate about to a place that it doesn’t exist, which is my hometown of Winnipeg, Man., Canada,’” she said.

“I’m going to see if I can introduce raw food and vegan food in a fast-food restaurant concept that would make it really accessible for everyone, as affordable as possible and show people these amazing flavour profiles and how delicious healthy food can be for you.”

Giesbrecht said she is looking to set up shop at a space at True North Square in downtown Winnipeg but she is still in negotiation with True North Sports + Entertainment.

“Being a fast-food style concept, I want to have it accessible to people by foot so that if they’re working downtown or if they’re coming for a concert or a hockey game or some sort of live event, they’ll be in the area and they’ll be able to come to the restaurant that way,” she said.

The I Like It Raw Kickstarter campaign is asking for $50,000. Giesbrecht said the funds will be going toward start-up costs for the restaurant.

“To open this restaurant concept, it’s approximately $100,000 in start-up costs, so this [campaign] would cover half of our start-up costs and that includes everything from equipment to lease hold improvements, to lawyer fees, business fees, tax fees and then getting furniture and the design aspect elements,” she said.

She said her idea will question whether Winnipeggers even want a vegan fast-food restaurant.

“It’s also a great viability test. Does Winnipeg want this style of restaurant? Are people willing to get behind this project with not just their voice but their dollars?” she said.

“So for any entrepreneur starting a business, you want to do a test of the market before you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a project. You want to make sure it’s something people want.”

After making announcements of her new business venture, Giesbrecht has seen some traction in support of making the business a reality.

“It’s a very small team, so it’s myself and the support of some really good friends with experience in the restaurant industry and family, but I guess since we’ve been launching and doing the announcements, I’ve had so many people come forward and say they’ve wanted to get involved,” she said.

“They either want to work in the kitchen or they want to help with the business side of things or they want to help design the menu or even just get involved in any way they can, so that’s been really amazing to see that there’s certainly lots of people who really want this to work out and now it’s just trying to get the funding in place so we can make this dream a reality.”