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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Jul. 10, 2019 5 days ago

Plant-based eatery HUMBL takes root in Horizon West

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HUMBL’s flagship location in Windermere Village is now open and dishing out its unique fare.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

With hungry patrons being more cognizant than ever about healthy eating, the Horizon West area’s newest eatery has arrived at just the right time.

HUMBL, Orlando’s first plant-based and fast-casual restaurant brand, launched its flagship location in Windermere Village. What’s more, CEO Paul Mascia lives in Winter Garden and COO Eric Koeser in Windermere.

However, HUMBL’s chief culinary officer is Los Angeles-based celebrity chef Matthew Kenney. It’s a partnership that first blossomed when Mascia and Koeser were looking to launch their concept for a plant-based eatery.

Eighteen months ago, Mascia was watching the documentary “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix. He added he had eaten meat or animal protein with every one of his meals in the past 40 years before he was challenged to try plant-based eating. 

“I thought I’d give it a try, and I felt fantastic,” he said. “I had more energy and alertness, I felt better in every way, so I decided to make it a lifestyle. I realized there wasn’t much around (Orlando) to have a great fast-casual, convenient (plant-based restaurant) experience. I saw a tremendous opportunity for plant-based cuisine, and here we have a few smaller concepts but no real brand. We reached out to Chef Matthew and his team to let them know what we wanted to do.” 

The vision is to have HUMBL become the country’s leading fast-causal, plant-based brand, bringing familiar favorites to the table while sticking to the fully plant-based concept.

When Kenney was speaking to Mascia and Koeser about their idea, he was intrigued. His passions lie in hospitality and wellness/exercise, and plant-based cuisine is one of his specialties. Kenney also has been in the culinary field for 30 years, starting with classical French training before applying those techniques to his desire to cook healthier food. 

“My passions are not just about staying healthy and exercising but also protecting animals and keeping people healthy,” he said. “I started applying my work completely toward plant-based cuisine with the vision that it would one day become the center of the plate, the common food and not the exception.”

Orlando is a very strong market for plant-based cuisine, Kenney said. Mascia added a large part of calling the Horizon West/Windermere area home was because it’s in his own backyard.

“I’ve been a West Orange resident for almost 40 years, but we chose this location in particular, because there’s amazing growth in the area, and we believe the supply wasn’t really here,” Mascia said. “The community was right for it, and there’s opportunities and a need for it. The big picture is to really transform lives at a core — we want people to live a life well fed and get a plant-based experience.”

The HUMBL menu features Kenney’s signature cuisine and extends his focus on delivering high-quality, fresh food to the fast-casual restaurant segment. Kenney added the ingredients will be received from Villages Grown, which sources hyperlocal produce. The ingredients are used to recreate classic, familiar dishes such as burgers, pizza, bowls and ice cream.

Another feature is the company’s one-for-one program, which provides a meal to a hungry child for every meal purchased. Each HUMBL location is expected to provide 70,000 meals per year.

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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