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Andy Hooper of Hart House on Pioneering a Plant-Based Revolution Interview with Andy Hooper of Hart House about co-founding the modern restaurant company with Kevin Hart, making plant-based food accessible to all, and investing in employees.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Two Ideas Become One Mission: Andy Hooper's first encounter with Kevin Hart was an hour before the entertainer went on stage in LA. It was that meeting where Hooper asked Hart a very important question (“Why?”) that allowed the two to sync their ideas to form the foundation of Hart House.
  • Plant-Based Food for the People: Hart House is meant to be an accessible healthy choice that a lot of people will want to eat. Andy Hooper deems it "plant based food for the people" to denote his and Kevin Hart's mission to increase the public exposure to a new variety of food.
  • Cost Management Approach: Hart House is not the run of the mill quick service restaurant company. Andy Hooper is on a mission to combine the best of what successful restaurants have to offer and combine them with his own ideas of how to create an environment that is both hospitable to customers and serves employees at a high level.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the restaurant industry Hart House is committed to creating a space where plant-based food options are more accessible to all.

"This is plant-based food for the people…" Hart House CEO and co-founder Andy Hooper tells host Shawn Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "...an opportunity to take food that is objectively delicious in its own right that just so happens to be made from something different than it's normally made from."

Hart House is an innovative quick-service restaurant concept founded by Kevin Hart and partners. The company is committed to the future of food, as well as the overall wellbeing of its customers.

"I founded Hart House to create a good experience that combines the joy of coming together over food, with the power of purpose," Kevin Hart said on the Hart House website.

Drawing inspiration from renowned restaurant brands, CEO Andy Hooper envisions a melding of their successes with a goal of creating a job structure that empowers individuals managing Hart House units. Therefore offering them real equity and the opportunity to thrive.

"What would it look like if we took the best of Chick-Fil-A, the best of Outback's Managing Partner program, the best of what Darden (Restaurants) has done to build their brand with full service over time. The best of what Cheesecake Factory did with their single unit operators.

"And rolled that all into a job that gave real equity to the people managing these units?" says Hooper. "Thinking about it more as an investment thesis than a cost management approach."

This employee facing experience aligns seamlessly with Hart House's overarching mission to create a space that is both hospitable to customers and serves the employee.

Andy Hooper recognizes that a restaurant's success transcends its physical offerings. Taking cues from industry giants like McDonald's, Hooper understands that building a lasting brand necessitates careful consideration of every detail that contributes to the broadest possible appeal.

With Hart House, the team is aiming to embrace the investment thesis that emphasizes the long-term benefits of cultivating a skilled, dedicated, and motivated workforce.

Hooper's pursuit of his vision was amplified when he met with multi-hyphenate entertainer extraordinaire and health enthusiast Kevin Hart. During this initial meeting, Hooper posed an important question to Kevin.

"Candidly, my first question was, why do you need this?" he recalls. "Restaurants, as you know well, are not exactly a get rich quick scheme, especially for somebody who honestly probably has more to lose than to gain, at least on the surface. My question was like, why?"

Luckily, Hart's answer aligned with Hooper's vision and the two set the wheels in motion for what would become Hart House.

As we witness the birth of a new level of accessibility in plant based foods, the possibilities for both customers and employees in the realm of hospitality are expanding.

Hart House stands as a testament to Hooper, Hart, and team's audacity and unwavering dedication to creating a paradigm shift in the restaurant industry and usher in a new era of quick-service food.

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Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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