What Happened To Project Pollo After Shark Tank?

In a world where meatless hamburgers have become a commonplace menu item, it makes sense that "chickenless" chicken would follow. And, despite having nothing in common with the barnyard bird you'll find in buckets at KFC, this product bears a shocking resemblance to the real thing. Meet Project Pollo, a company with a website that boasts of saving over a million chickens. Company founder Lucas Bradbury told My San Antonio that his restaurant business seeks to change "the future of sustainable consumption." When asked why he doesn't use the word "vegan" on his menus, he told the Dallas Morning News that he's not trying to promote veganism, but is trying to create a "sustainable quick service restaurant concept" by using less valuable resources and making a smaller carbon footprint.

Project Pollo also seeks to trample Chick-fil-A right out of business by 2030 by challenging the current restaurant industry and showing the public that there is an alternative to killing millions of chickens (via VegNews). When Bradbury received an invitation to appear on "Shark Tank," he told QSR that the company was doing well and "opening a new location every 34 days," but there was no way he was going to pass up an opportunity to chat with the investment-savvy sharks or showcase his business to the show's vast audience.

So what happened when Bradbury presented his poultry-free chicken restaurants to the sharks?

The high valuation was a concern for the sharks

When Lucas Bradbury hit the "Shark Tank" stage, he asked for a steep $2.5 million for a 5% stake in the company, meaning that he had assigned Project Pollo a huge $50 million valuation (via Shark Tank Talks). According to Shark Tank Recap, this valuation made Kevin O'Leary walk away from the table right away. Mark Cuban also thought it was too high and added that replacing meat with plants doesn't necessarily make a food better for you. Guest Shark, Kevin Hart, thought the venture was too chancy. Barbara Corcoran and Lori Greiner both felt that the company was moving far too quickly, sparking both to bow out.

It wasn't all bad news for the new plant-based food innovation though. Shark Tank Talks offers that O'Leary contended that Project Pollo had the "best fake chicken that he has ever eaten" and that Bradbury has a solid business idea. And, with Bradbury appearing on the show simply for public exposure and advice from the entrepreneurial sharks, he came away with exactly what he was seeking. 

Project Pollo has plans to expand outside of Texas

Despite walking away from "Shark Tank" empty-handed, Project Pollo continues on its quest to decimate Chick-fil-A. VegNews featured the restaurant's Spicy Project Chikn Sandwich in an issue of their magazine (via Instagram), which is certainly a feather in the company's cap. According to the company website, they currently have 13 locations in operation and planned on opening one in the spring of 2022, five in the summer of 2022, and two in September 2022. In June of this year, Bradbury told QSR that he plans to introduce eateries in Colorado, Arizona, and Vegas this year, with ones in Nashville, Atlanta, Tampa, and Miami in 2023. Currently, all of the operating locations are in Texas. 

How does Bradbury feel about his time with the sharks? He told QSR that he wasn't going to lower his valuation and "sell his brand short." Instead, he said his goal was to have one of the moguls "come along for the ride," if they supported what he is seeking to accomplish. He did add, "I can't expect the sharks to understand how to grow massive restaurant brands. Not a shark on there has done that, and that's OK." 

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this purveyor of chickenless chicken. Perhaps, a Project Pollo will pop up in a neighborhood near you. You'll either call it one of the best foods seen on Shark Tank or head for a Chick-fil-A.