Oprah Winfrey Invests in Healthy Restaurant Chain True Food Kitchen
The media mogul will also join the eatery's board of directors as a consultant.
Oprah Winfrey is expanding her involvement in the world of healthy eating.
The media mogul, who in 2015 invested in and joined the board of Weight Watchers and later released her own cookbook and line of health-conscious comfort foods, has made an equity investment in True Food Kitchen, an award-winning restaurant chain that prides itself on its health-conscious menu. Winfrey also will join the brand's board of directors to provide insight on marketing objectives and future expansion.
"Ms. Winfrey is such an incredibly accomplished businesswoman," said True Food Kitchen CEO Christine Barone. "We are lucky to have her as an investor and sit on the board of directors."
Winfrey became hooked on the eatery's message, goals and food after an introduction from friend and health expert Bob Greene. While the two dined at the company's Santa Monica location, the emphasis on how healthy eating and living go hand-in-hand was especially enticing for Winfrey.
"I love bringing people together over a good meal," she said. "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."
Winfrey's equity investment comes at a time where the restaurant has already established itself in 23 locations over 10 different states across the nation. With her collaboration, the brand's growth is expected to accelerate even more. By 2021, True Food Kitchen plans to double its store count, particularly on the East Coast, with key focus areas including New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida and Maryland. Additionally, two new locations in Jacksonville, Florida, and Nashville are expected to open by the end of the year.
"When Ms. Winfrey and I first sat down to discuss her potential investment, I was impressed by her genuine passion for the intention behind True Food," Barone explained. "My hope is that her passion and investment will continue to develop our growing brand to allow even more guests to experience a better way of eating."
Adding to that, Barone told The Hollywood Reporter how the restaurant's "atmosphere community" was intriguing to the former television host. "Every single one of our restaurants is a bit different and integrates itself into the local community," she explained. "What was really inspiring was [Winfrey] not only loved the food, but felt that sense of community in our restaurant."
Founded in 2008 by Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen incorporates his anti-inflammatory diet into each item on the food and beverage menu, which changes four times a year. The principles of this healthy eating style rely on small diet changes to "counteract chronic inflammation" and make long-lasting effects for the maintenance of optimum health. Each establishment is led by an executive chef and team of food experts who are skilled in "capturing produce at the height of their season" and creating dishes that make customers feel better and healthier. With vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options that incorporate seasonal produce and nutrient-dense ingredients, customers can experience a menu that is both health-conscious and satisfying without sacrificing flavor or creativity.
"When our guests come in, there are many different lifestyles and dietary choices to be made," Barone explained of the restaurant's widespread appeal. "We make it easy for guests and cater to those allergies and lifestyles."
Winfrey, who continues to serve as CEO and chairman of her cable network OWN, in June inked a non-exclusive, multiyear content partnership with Apple.