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Next Level Burger buys Veggie Grill to create plant-based restaurant giant

Illustration of a burger stacked high with money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Plant-based burger chain Next Level Burger acquired Veggie Grill yesterday, valuing the combined company at more than $80 million post-deal close, CEO Matt de Gruyter tells Axios.

Driving the news: The transaction brings Next Level Burger's location count to 27, making it the largest plant-based restaurant chain in the world.

Details: The deal was financed through existing cash, Gruyter tells Axios.

  • Portland, Ore.-based Next Level bought Veggie Grill from investor VegInvest, which saved Veggie Grill from bankruptcy and will become a shareholder in Next Level Burger, per the announcement.
  • Veggie Grill will be rebranded as "Veggie Grill by Next Level."

What they're saying: "Veggie Grill by Next Level will mean all sorts of changes: organic produce, non-GMO ingredients and ensuring living wages for our many team members across the country," de Gruyter said in a statement.

Catch up fast: Next Level Burger wants to be America's first plant-based restaurant IPO, de Gruyter previously told Axios.

Yes, but: "We are keeping our options open, but also preparing for that path," he tells Axios for this report.

What's next: Following this deal, the restaurant chain still plans to raise capital — which it previously pegged at eight figures — to move toward its goal of 1,000 locations, de Gruyter says.

  • When asked about future acquisitions, de Gruyter says, "stay tuned."

Be smart: The strategy is not dissimilar to Cava, which acquired Zoës Kitchen and then converted many of those locations to the Cava concept prior to its own IPO last year.

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