They’re doing things very colorfully. Burgers in all the colors of the rainbow are the trademark of the Flower Burger chain founded in 2015 which can now also be found in Great Britain, France and the Netherlands. It even has its first US-American branch in Los Angeles.
Vegan patties and buns in every color
On the menu you’ll mostly find a decent selection of vegan burgers in yellows and purples and greens, pinks and turquoise blues, the cheese is plant-based, as are the patties, which are made from oats and beans, chickpeas and lentils, for example. For even more variety, there is a different limited edition on offer, currently the ocean-blue creation Truffle Beach with a patty made of mushrooms and truffle mayo. Before that, they offered a bright green elf burger with crispy breaded eggplant slices, which was introduced on Instagram with a charming fairy tale story. They also had a “smurfette burger,” which was blue of course! The colorful hippie ambience of the stores matches this, and the funky burgers are also sold from colorful food trucks.
Colorful plant-based food for everyone
Matteo Toto is the founder, chef and head of the successful chain. When the economics specialist lost his job in 2015, he seized the opportunity without further ado and started his own business. His plan: to create the perfect symbiosis of burger culture and vegan cuisine, one that was witty, accessible and with no frills or pretensions. It should appeal to everyone, whether they are meat eaters or passionate vegans. “I chose the flower as a symbol of positivity, joy and love,” explains the likeable thirty-something. “The rainbow colors express the connection between our purely plant-based menu and nature.”
Natural colors provide funky shades to the burger buns
The bright colors are all won from purely natural materials. They become yellow thanks to the spice turmeric, and green when combined with blue spirulina algae. The purple buns are dyed with black carrot extract and the pink comes from beetroot and cherry extract.
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The testimonial from the TV talent show
Matteo Toto spent six months tinkering with delicious recipes and a strategy. His professional business plan also impressed his former boss and some friends, who gave the young entrepreneur a helping hand financially and supported him with administration and marketing. In the same year, the concept was launched in Matteo’s hometown Milan. The restaurateur was also able to win over a vegetarian chef from the culinary talent show MasterChef Italia 2015, and signed a promotional contract with her for the first quarter of the year. “That really attracted a lot of guests,” says the restaurateur.
Challenges of a food business startup
After only one year, Matteo Toto acquired the first two franchisees and started a small production. “We are the first vegan fast food chain in the world to offer rainbow burgers made entirely in-house. We also promote a better lifestyle and diversity, with our burgers, in our stores and on our team,” says Toto confidently.
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But what sounds so smooth in retrospect got off to a pretty rough start. “The first two or three years were really crazy. I worked 14 to 16 hours a day and there were many moments when I just wanted to give up and throw in the towel,” the restaurateur admits. “The most dramatic thing was trying to surround yourself with the right people. I suffered a lot. I had to buy back a share from a partner I thought was a friend, a worker stole money, the manager made a huge mistake, almost forcing me to close up store, etc.” But none of this is apparent for the smart entrepreneur and his business today. How did he emerge from all the difficulties?
Giving up is never an option and expansion continues
“Resilience and never give up” is his motto. “I was always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and never lost hope that everything would turn out good in the end.” And that’s how it finally came to be. The company’s financial strength grew, which means it now has its own stores in addition to franchising branches. One in three is now doing so, and even more of the company’s own outlets are set to open in the future. The expansion surge is underway. Matteo Toto is pursuing a very specific concept: “We are focusing on countries where the vegan sector is already developed. The strategy depends on the respective country. Sometimes it is better to open a store yourself, in other cases franchising or a joint venture with a local partner is recommended.”
In summary, as hippie casual as the concept comes across, it is meticulously and professionally executed. And it is precisely this colorful mix that is perhaps the best recipe for success!