Amy’s Drive Thru is definitely not your old man’s fast food joint. Nestled among the Taco Bells and Chick-fil-As on Highway 101 North in Rohnert Park, California, Amy’s serves up tasty vegetarian and vegan fare, and theirs is a story for the ages.
You may recognize Amy’s moniker from the frozen section at your local grocery store. Amy’s Kitchen has been peddling its meat-free dishes for over 29 years, culled from employee’s personal recipe collections and whipped up from locally sourced, certified organic ingredients.
When Amy’s opened its drive-thru in 2015, the company was merely hoping to break even that first year. But to their great surprise, the restaurant far surpassed their revenue expectations—nearly to the point of being overwhelmed—and now, just two years later, Amy’s is expanding. They’ve secured an abandoned Denny’s down the road a ways in Corte Madera, and five more Northern California locations are planned soon after. And after that? Amy’s for everyone, all over the country.
Accessible, Affordable Vegetarian and Vegan Victuals
Amy’s Drive Thru is like no other fast food chain in the U.S. The main difference is that everything on the menu is vegetarian or vegan, and the whole operation is peanut- and egg-free so that folks with allergies can nosh fearlessly. Every single ingredient is non-GMO, 95 percent organic, and almost entirely locally sourced. Every item is available gluten-free.
You’re probably thinking that you’re gonna pay a heck of a premium for a sack of organic, non-GMO veggie burgers, but Amy’s is surprisingly affordable. The most popular burger is The Amy, featuring a double veggie patty, double cheese, the usual fixin’s, and Fred Sr.’s Secret Sauce. It’s just $4.99, and for just 50 cents more, you can make it gluten-free and vegan. For the same price, the Classic Organic Burrito is a gluten-free tortilla stuffed with red beans, red rice, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream, topped with Fred Jr.’s chipotle salsa. Other offerings include mac ’n’ cheese, pizzas, soups and salads, and chili fries—all organic, all delicious, and all affordable.
Eco-Friendly: More Than a Buzzword at Amy’s
It’s not just the food at Amy’s that has a conscience. The homespun,1950’s Americana-inspired building was fashioned entirely from sustainable materials, almost all locally sourced, much of it recycled. The green roof is ablaze with wildflowers that attract bees and other wildlife and reduces the restaurant’s energy needs. The water tower out front collects rain to water the roof and the other green things on the property, all of which are drought-resistant and native to the area.
The drive-thru is solar-powered, and the table bases are made from recycled auto brake drums. All of the packaging and utensils are made from recycled materials and are, themselves, 100 percent recyclable. Even the employees’ uniforms are environmentally friendly, designed by Hardy Blechman, who’s all about sustainable and ethically made textiles and clothing.
And speaking of employees, Amy’s 90-plus workers are paid a fair living wage and get full benefits. How’s that for innovative?
Easy on the Eyes
Inside Amy’s, you’ll find clean, modern lines, a pleasing color palette, and floor-to-ceiling windows for a bright, sunshiny dining experience. A ginormous patio is surrounded with greenery and dotted with umbrella-shaded tables for comfortable al fresco dining.
The packaging follows the same train of thought: Easy on the eyes. The turquoise logo, bright complementing colors, and cool graphics are hip and modern. The tractor graphic on one incarnation of the to-go sack is straight from the farm where Amy’s sources many of their ingredients. The bespectacled old man on another is Fred Sr., one of the kitchen creators, whose secret sauce is, by all accounts, to die for. And the surfer on the burger box is none other than Andy, one of the owners.
Nothing about Amy’s is fake. Not the food, not the water tower, and not the graphics on the packaging. As Amy’s lead designer David Grocott puts it, “If there’s anything we want shoved down your throat, it’s a burger and fries.” And if Amy’s continues its streak of successes and expands countrywide as is the plan, these delicious vittles may be headed down your throat in the near future.