LOS ANGELES — Kevin Hart already has a thriving comedy and acting career, and now he's aiming for people's stomachs.
The prolific actor-comedian opened his first plant-based, fast-food restaurant called Hart House on Thursday in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles near the city's airport. He wants this new venture to attract regular plant-based eaters along with those who haven’t yet been introduced to that world of healthy eating.
“Our business is in the business of feeling good. That’s what Kevin Hart is about,” he said in an interview before the restaurant's official opening, which got off to a strong start with a long lines of customers throughout the day. While sitting alongside his wife, Eniko Hart, the actor scarfed down a plant-based crispy chick’n sandwich, chick’n nuggets and tots.
Rapper Lil Baby showed up to the preview to place an order from the fully plant-based menu that also features burgers, salads, fries, ice teas and a limeade. The restaurant’s milkshakes are made from an oat-and-soy blend.
“I say this all the time: ‘Live, love, laugh,’” Hart continued. “Here, we say ‘Eat your hart out.’ People have a curiosity about plant-based food. It’s something I eat. It’s really good. When you look at other restaurants, Hart House is just as good and maybe even better in some respects.”
Hart felt the need to create a healthy space within the fast-food spectrum that’s affordable for customers. There are several other plant-based, fast-food options located throughout Los Angeles, but Hart House’s approach is to serve quality food with sandwiches and burgers that are within the $5-$7 price range — less than competitors.
“It’s a major priority for us,” Hart said. “We want to make an environment where people feel good.”
In creating Hart House, the comedian-actor teamed up with restaurateur Andy Hooper, chef Mike Salem and businessman Michael Rubin, who was an investor.
Salem, who developed Hart House’s menu options, was the head of culinary innovation at Burger King where he helped launch the Impossible Whopper.
“One of the cool things about our leadership is that the majority of us are carnivores,” he said. “But we wanted to create this plant-base concept and bring Kevin’s vision to light. We wanted to keep this simple. This is straightforward classic American comfort food.”
Along with his flagship location, Hart wants to open six more Hart House restaurants by the end of the year. He already has two locations under construction in Los Angeles including one in the Hollywood area.
“We’re being open minded,” he said. “This is a new generation and new way of thinking when it comes to food consumption. This is the beginning stages for us. We will continue to get better over time.”
It's a busy week for Hart, whose latest film, “Me Time” with Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall, released on Netflix on Friday.