After more than a year in the making, an innovative new vegan restaurant has opened on Dallas' Greenville Avenue: Project Pollo, a growing young chain from San Antonio, celebrated a soft opening on February 26-27 at its first Dallas location at 4814 Greenville Ave., IE the former Start.
Long in the works, the restaurant was so swamped by enthusiastic diners that it will shut down on Monday, February 28 and Tuesday, March 1 in order to catch its breath.
And on Sunday, the second day it was open, they temporarily trimmed down the menu to make things more manageable.
The staff hustled to keep up with demand but the sheer volume translated into 30-minute-plus waits, with cars wrapped around the drive-thru lane.
"A huge THANK YOU to everyone that came out to our very first day in Dallas yesterday," the restaurant said in a statement. "Our team has been working hard to serve you all and the crowd definitely showed up!"
Project Pollo was founded in San Antonio in 2020 and is growing rapidly, with locations in Austin and Houston as well. Founder Lucas Bradbury was inspired to create the concept after encouraging his parents to adopt a plant-based diet for health reasons.
He's on a mission to make plant-based food more accessible to all, matter what their income bracket, and plans to open many more locations across Texas in 2022, including Corpus Christi, which is slated to open in April.
He also prioritizes fair wages — employees get double the minimum wage plus benefits — and sustainability; all of the packaging used is compostable, telling Fast Casual magazine that, "at the end of the day, we are 100 percent about saving the planet. Saving animals is a happy byproduct of that."
The company takes a flexible approach to locations, often repurposing buildings other operators overlook. That was the case in Dallas: They originally planned to open in an odd little building at 6857 Greenville Ave. But their progress on that space was beset by delays, due to Dallas' backlogged permitting process.
The location at 4814 Greenville Ave., now adorned with their trademark red-and-white color scheme, is a much larger space and comes with ample parking plus a drive-thru.
Project Pollo inspires passion because its food is a persuasive and affordable knockoff of regular fast-food, with lush bold flavors you'd expect from a regular fried chicken sandwich or burger.
Fried "chicken-less" sandwiches are their trademark, such as the Spicy Project, featuring breaded fried chikn with spicy garlic Buffalo sauce and ranch, served with a pickled jalapeño. They make their own vegan chicken using a proprietary blend of textured soy and vegetable protein.
The chicken also stars in a Caesar wrap and in nachos, with tortilla chips made in-house topped with crispy chikn, red onion, jalapeños, queso from Credo Foods, and a cilantro lime crema.
In summer 2021, they added a trio of burgers, using Impossible patties, including the Backyard Burger, with bacon and cheddar cheese; a patty melt, on toasted sourdough bread; and the "Mushroom Impossible," a decadent burger with caramelized onion, beer-marinated mushrooms, smoked Provolone cheese.
Everything, even their mac & cheese, made with vegan cashew-based cheese, is plant-based, although a significant percentage of their customers also eat meat.
People go crazy for their milkshakes, made with creamy Oatly soft-serve and topped with Reddi-Wip almond-milk whipped cream, in the following flavors:
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Mint Chocolate
- Double Chocolate
- Red Velvet
And on March 7 they'll introduce a limited-edition Shamrock Shake, a Double Chocolate Mint shake with Oatly soft-serve, double-chocolate chip cookies from San Antonio-based Southern Roots Vegan Bakery, mint, and whipped topping.
A post by Dallas Vegan Roundup summed it up:
"Y'all. Thanks to Project Pollo, there is a fully vegan drive-thru in Dallas! I mean, a vegan burger, tots, and a milkshake from a drive-they?! Not only is their food delicious, they are a great friend to the surrounding communities they serve. We already have an amazing lineup of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants here, but this definitely a great addition to the area! Soft opening this weekend, with a grand opening soon thereafter. Welcome to Dallas!"
On Thursday, March 3, they'll be doing a Dallas Chamber Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, and the weekend will feature grand opening events. Hours on Thursday through Sunday will be 12-8 pm.