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TORONTO Despite a rise in popularity of plant-based eating, anyone unfamiliar with the diet might think it’s bland or boring. To counter this idea, margarine brand Becel recently staged a greenhouse restaurant for consumers called PLNT, where everything inside—from the entrees and decor to the dinnerware and server outfits—was made entirely out of plants.
The restaurant, open at the corner of Front and Simcoe streets from February 28 to March 2, enlisted the likes of TV personality and interior designer Jillian Harris, registered dietitian Tori Wesszer, and chef Matt Dean Pettit to help put together dishes with a goal of redefining how people view the term “plant-based.”
The restaurant hosted seven seatings where diners could taste dishes including vegan mushroom wellington, crunchy guacamole bites, and deviled eggs, all of which used Becel products. The pop-up, which was produced and designed by EventSing and Jesson Moen and Crux Design & Build, created an outdoor oasis by installing garden lights, laying down sod flooring and wooden fencing, and creating a small forest that guests could walk through.
“We wanted a thoughtfully curated space to appeal to your above-average social media user,” said Nicole Fischer, senior brand manager at Becel. “Millennials were the best target to ensure PLNT was shared beyond the confines of its greenhouse and with Canadians across the country.” Becel used geo-targeted social ads for PLNT so that interested Torontonians in the downtown core would make reservations. Fischer wanted their millennial demographic, who isn’t the typical margarine consumer, to get to know the brand in a cool environment that aligned with the current dietary trends.
The inspiration for the event came from a survey that Becel commissioned on plant-based eating trends. The pop-up first took place earlier this year in Montreal at Monsieur Resto and Bar with local chef Kimberly Lallouz. Fischer also explained that social coverage stemming from a Becel with Avocado Oil pop-up restaurant—which took place in Toronto in the fall to coincide with its product launch—was so impressive that the product quickly gained a 2.1 percent market dollar share in the margarine market.
“Over the past year, the brand has focused on putting influencers at the center of our activations,” Fischer said, noting the brand will continue to monitor the social coverage stemming the experience and the integration of Becel into plant-based diets.
Proceeds from the PLNT pop-up ticket sales were donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and were matched dollar-for-dollar by Becel.
Correction: A previous version of this story included the incorrect location and inspiration for Becel's PLNT pop-up. The pop-up took place at the corner of Front and Simcoe streets and was inspired by a Becel survey on plant-based eating trends.