Project Pollo is America’s first vegan chicken fast food chain aiming to disrupt the industry with their plant-based burgers, wraps, and shakes. The vegan restaurant’s founder, Lucas Bradbury appeared on Shark Tank but wasn’t able to get a deal. As of 2023, Project Pollo is worth an estimated $50 million.
About the Founder
Lucas Bradbury is based in San Antonio, Texas and took general studies for two years at Kansas Wesleyan University. Later, he earned a degree in economics from Kansas State University.
While still a student, he worked as a general manager at Pizza Hut and BRAVO BRIO. Lucas was also hired as an area director for the Leiszler Oil Company. After graduating, he held the same position at Dunkin’ Donuts and Papa John’s.
He then worked as both an area director and general manager at Which Wich Superior Sandwiches. In 2017, he became a franchisee and VP of Operations at Earth Burgers.
Founding the Company
One day, a local brewery asked Lucas about placing a food truck on his property to comply with CDC rules for operating during the pandemic. The man wanted to test the market by starting a fast-food truck.
So he did, and it wasn’t just any normal restaurant. Everything he wanted to serve was plant-based and non-GMO. In addition, things like bags and containers in the food place were compostable.
Project Pollo started in 2020, serving only meatless chicken patties. When the startup saw unprecedented growth, it expanded its menu. In less than two years, they opened ten locations in Texas and were forecasting $10 million in revenue.
Shark Tank Appearance
Lucas Bradbury pitched on Shark Tank after receiving an email from Mark Cuban. The founder didn’t exactly need to raise at the time but thought the exposure would benefit the business. He appeared on season 13 of Shark Tank, seeking $2.5 million for a 5% equity stake.
He warned the Sharks to brace themselves before he revealed his valuation. The Texan entrepreneur stood behind the valuation and explained why his company was worth that much. Kevin O’Leary in particular found it difficult to stomach the valuation.
Barbara also pointed out how customers would be fooled by the name. The Sharks were impressed by his food and early revenue, but they were hesitant to invest, believing the business was trying to scale too quickly and would lose a lot of money doing so. The Sharks all passed on the opportunity.
After Shark Tank
Although Lucas didn’t get a deal, he got enough free publicity from the show to continue the company’s strong momentum. Project Pollo has 13 locations in Texas and recently added 8 more branches in places such as Colorado, Boulder, Arizona, and Las Vegas at the end of 2022.
Lucas is planning to start franchising in 2023 and is looking to partner with experienced restaurant operators in New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The chain is known for providing generous benefits to staff including health insurance and paid vacations.
The vegan fast-food chain has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 165 reviews on Yelp. Project Pollo makes an estimated $10 million in annual revenue and is worth $50 million. Despite the company’s success, they will need to introduce healthier options in the long-term to sustain its growth.