Globally Local, the organic-produce delivery company turned vegan, fast-food restaurant is gearing up to open a second set of doors. The brand will launch the world’s first 24-hour, vegan drive-thru restaurant right here in London.
James McInnes and his wife, Lia McInnes, started Globally Local just over four years ago initially posting vegan recipes on Facebook. Eventually, the couple started preparing vegan meal kits for customers.
“Four and a half years ago, you wouldn’t see the word vegan anywhere,” James says. “It’s really changed a lot.”
A lot of the items on Globally Local’s menu are vegan spinoffs of menu items you can find at McDonalds. The most popular item on the menu, the Famous Burger, is their take on the Big Mac.
Other popular items include the Chickun Burger — a vegan McChicken — and the Vegan Vopper — their take on Burger King's Whopper. Globally Local will introduce a host of new menu items that coincides with the launch of their new drive-thru restaurant. Customers can expect to find ice cream dishes as well as new chicken and breakfast items. All vegan of course.
For James, his decision to go vegan was part of a personal effort to combat health issues.
“I had high blood pressure, and I was pretty young, so I was surprised that I had it,” James says. “I wasn’t eating bad food, I was just eating what normal people eat, and through that style I got pretty sick. I went vegan to try and help it, and all my medical conditions went away.”
That was four years ago, and since then veganism has gained momentum in London. While it may not yet be considered mainstream, London currently has over 20 restaurants that offer vegan-friendly options and that number continues to grow.
James believes it’s a paradigm shift. Trends come and go, but James doesn’t believe this is the case with veganism.
“I think this is something that’s changing the world . . . I think it’s something that’s here to stay.”
But what James finds more important than people fully adopting a vegan diet is the fact that people are now more willing than ever to at least try a vegan meal. Ninety per cent of Globally Local’s customers are non-vegans just looking to try something new.
“Most people, when they think vegan food, think of a salad or a wrap — your stereotypical vegan dishes. We’re trying to break those stereotypes,” James says.
James says Globally Local's goal is to create a business model that will scale internationally. He wants to create a new type of fast food industry that’s based around plant-based foods and local, high-quality ingredients.
The unveiling of their first brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown London in January was the first step to reaching that goal. Five months later, opening the world’s first 24-hour, vegan drive-thru window will mark the second step. The couple says they have plans to open at least two to three more stores this year, but to keep in line with their global vision, James has his eyes on the bigger picture.
James says the next challenge they want to overcome is breaking into the American fast food market. James believes if they can perfect their model in London, they can attempt to establish Globally Local as an American fast food restaurant and move closer to becoming a global brand.
For now, though, James is focused on the present. The new restaurant, located at the intersection of Cheapside Street and Highbury Avenue opens its 24-hour drive-thru window on June 19.
The storefront’s grand opening is expected to take place some time shortly after Canada Day.