Bethesda entrepreneur starting eco-friendly food business, nonprofit in former Honest Tea office

Bethesda entrepreneur starting eco-friendly food business, nonprofit in former Honest Tea office

Goldman plans to open four or five more PLNT Burger restaurants this year

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Bethesda entrepreneur Seth Goldman has started the brand Eat The Change, which has both business venture and nonprofit components dedicated to environmentally sustainable food consumption

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Bethesda entrepreneur Seth Goldman announced Sunday that he is starting a new business and nonprofit under the same brand name that is devoted to promoting environmentally-friendly food consumption.

Goldman has started the venture Eat The Change, which is a holding company that will be involved in opening additional fast-casual plant-based burger restaurants called PLNT Burger in the greater Washington region. The first PLNT Burger location opened last year inside the downtown Silver Spring Whole Foods.

Goldman is also starting a nonprofit organization with the same name that will award grants to organizations that promote climate-friendly diets.

“It has both for profit and nonprofit components to it. The biggest part of the concept is the recognition that consumers have a need and a desire to connect their concerns around the climate to their dietary choices,” Goldman said in an interview Sunday.

Both the Eat The Change business and non-profit will be in the former Honest Tea space in Bethesda Row, Goldman said.

Goldman, who co-founded Honest Tea in 1998, stepped down from the company last year when the company moved to Atlanta to become part of Coca Cola.

Goldman, his son Jonah and wife Julie Farkas will all be part of the founding team of investors of PLNT Burger, along with four others. Goldman, according to a press release, will “drive expansion plans and strategic planning.” At least four PLNT Burger locations are planned for the region this year, he said.

Goldman didn’t disclose the specific locations of the restaurants, but said initially they will be within a 30-minute drive from his Bethesda home. He also said that there would be others inside Whole Foods stores.

“For now the plan is to keep expanding in Whole Foods because they’ve been such a great partner,” he said.

Goldman said his nonprofit will award $1 million to organizations that embrace-climate friendly diets during the next three years, with $300,000 expected to be awarded this year. He has already awarded $5,000 grants to Project Drawdown, a global organization that does research on climate change, and A Well-Fed World, which is based on Florida and promotes plant-based dieting.

Goldman said Eat The Change will put out requests for proposal in April and grants will be awarded in August. The grant money, he said, is money that was left over after he and his wife sold Honest Tea.

“It’s not coming out of the businesses. When we sold Honest Tea, we had put money into a nonprofit entity,” he said.

Goldman said he plans to hire for both the Eat The Change business and nonprofit, but declined to say how for how many positions.

“We are actively hiring some folks at PLNT Burger. We’ve already got 5 to 6 people working out of the office right now, and we expect to have more. And then for Eat The Change [nonprofit], that’ll be a separate group of people to come in,” he said.

As part of Goldman’s transition to starting Eat The Change, he step down from his position as executive chair of California-based meat substitute company Beyond Meat to take on a less demanding role.

“It means I’m no longer an officer of the company, so it’s slightly less time intensive. It’s still a very real and serious commitment,” he said.

Goldman said he plans to spend roughly seven days each month in California. He said he will be attending a natural foods show there this week, and often learns about the latest trends in sustainable food production when he is on the West coast.

“When I’m out there it’s great to see how food is evolving,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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