You get a restaurant! And you get a restaurant!
Over the years, Oprah Winfrey has successfully parlayed her brand as daytime television queen into a veritable business empire. A big part of her portfolio over the years has centered on healthy eating, both through a sizable investment in Weight Watchers and the launch of her own “O That’s Good!” prepared meals. Now, she’s put her considerable wealth into a restaurant venture that has its eye on bringing organic dining to the masses.
This week, Winfrey became the latest investor in Arizona-based restaurant chain True Food Kitchen. While just how much of her nearly $3 billion in net worth she sunk into the venture remains unknown, True Food Kitchen describes it as a “significant equity investment” that will give her a seat on the board of directors and allow her to “collaborate and consult” with the company’s leadership team, according to CNN.
The brainchild of “celebrity doctor” Dr. Andrew Weil (who wouldn’t be the first celebrity doctor Oprah’s worked with), True Food Kitchen is a “conscious casual” restaurant that focuses on seasonal and sustainable dishes that generally fall under the umbrella of healthy and organic eating. Think lighter fare like grain bowls, seafood entrees, and quinoa salads and you start to get the picture. It’s all supposed to be part of what True Food Kitchen bills as an anti-inflammatory diet, though it’s unclear if any such claims have been (or even really can be) independently verified.
Either way, it sounds like the food offerings and overall outlook were more than good enough to get Oprah on board. “I love bringing people together over a good meal,” she said in a statement. “When I first dined at True Food Kitchen, I was so impressed with the team’s passion for healthy eating and, of course, the delicious food, that I knew I wanted to be part of the company’s future.”
With Winfrey as an advisor and de-facto brand ambassador, True Food Kitchen has its eyes set on significant growth. After posting double-digit same-store sales growth in 2017 according to CEO Christine Barone, the goal is to double the size of the business over the next three years. That’ll involve establishing a presence on the east coast, expanding from True Food’s current footprint of 23 stores scattered across 10 states.
So will fast-casual diners ditch Chipotle and Panera in favor of Dr. Weil’s “anti inflammatory food pyramid”? Who knows, but if anyone can do it, it’s the media mogul who gave us free cars and hours of Dr. Phil content.