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Vegetarian fast food restaurant offers students a healthy alternative

Nub Culture: Vegetarian fast food restaurant offers students a healthy alternative

Amy’s Drive Thru features a living roof (pictured above) that grows native, drought resilient plants lowering the energy needs of the restaurant.

Students at Sonoma State University are trading their Big Macs for vegan pizzas with the opening of vegetarian fast food restaurant Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, Calif., just north of San Francisco. The opening of the restaurant in July coincides with a decline in sales at fast food chain McDonalds over the summer, reflecting a change in millennial eating habits. 

The drive through restaurant, part of the successful frozen food brand Amy’s Kitchen, is the first of its kind serving entirely organic, gluten-free and vegan food. The restaurant is expected to be a popular spot for college students at nearby Sonoma State.

Jenna Fischer, a sophomore at Sonoma State, sees Amy’s Drive Thru as a great addition to the community because of the quality of the food and its accessibility to college students.

“Sonoma County has some of the best food in California, but it’s not always accessible due to the luxury pricing,” said Fischer. “Since Amy’s started as a local business, it’s only natural that they would bring a better option to the fast food industry.”

Founded in 1987 in Petaluma, Calif., Amy’s Kitchen is the nation’s leading frozen food brand and has most recently expanded by opening its first drive through restaurant in Rohnert Park on July 20.

The brand is widely known for its organic and sustainable food options and for producing food free of genetically modified ingredients. Upholding the brand’s eco-friendly reputation, Amy’s Drive Thru also incorporates locally grown products from Sonoma County and utilizes sustainable technology in how the restaurant operates.

Rachel Keigley, a recent graduate of Sonoma State, sees Amy’s Drive Thru as a restaurant that reinforces healthy eating habits and reflects what college students are looking for in their diets.

“I think society has a long way to go with eating habits but Amy’s is getting such wonderful exposure and attention, I hope it will make people think about what they’re eating,” said Keigley.

As a vegetarian, Keigley takes pride in what she eats and hopes Amy’s Drive Thru will inspire others to lead a healthier lifestyle.

“Amy’s Kitchen gives me hope for the future,” said Keigley. “Not only for the well being of animals but for our health as human beings.”

According to a spokesperson of Amy’s Kitchen, the drive through restaurant sources as many ingredients as possible from the local community. The restaurant serves coffee from Coast Roast Coffee based in Tomales, Calif. as well as pickles from Sonoma Brinery.

Amy’s Kitchen is also equipped with a living roof populated by native, drought resilient plants that reduce heating and cooling needs of the restaurant.  To sustain the roof and other plants on the property, the restaurant has a water tower that collects rain water.

According to the Raw Food World, roughly 16 million Americans consider themselves vegetarian as of 2015, a figure that has more than doubled in the last seven years. With an increased interest in vegetarianism in recent years, Amy’s Drive Thru is expected to be the first of many locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, according to ABC 7 News.

Other aspects of Amy’s Drive Thru that appeal to college students are the convenience and proximity to Sonoma State as well as the affordability of the food. With prices ranging from $2 to $8, the restaurant offers many options that fit college students’ budgets and diets.

“Amy’s Drive Thru will make fast food for our community less of a guilty option, and give a good meal to those with busy lives and smaller budgets,” said Fischer.

By combining cheap and convenient prices with fresh and organic ingredients, McDonalds may have found a new competitor in the world of fast food with the opening of Amy’s Drive Thru.