You’ve seen his movies, his Netflix specials, his comedy podcasts, and certainly his ubiquitous Chase cash-back credit-card commercials. But have you ever tried his Deluxe Crispy Chick’n sandwich?
You soon will. Kevin Hart, the hardest-working man in showbiz — and, now, in the vegan fast-food game — is opening a third Hart House restaurant in May, this one at Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue, in what was once, ironically, a McDonald’s drive-through.
“We’ve got In-N-Out and Chick-fil-A across the street,” says Hart’s partner in the growing chain, Andy Hooper, who began his career at Burger King. “This is us showing we’re going toe-to-toe with established restaurants.”
Hart and Hooper started Hart House—which serves plant-based burgers and other healthy offerings made with a formulation of pea protein, chickpeas, and soy—last year with a restaurant in Westchester, quickly followed by another in Monrovia. All three share colorful, graphic interiors inspired by the mid-century aesthetic of L.A.’s early fast-food stands, but with a funkier atmosphere filled with James Brown and the Jackson 5 tunes piped in on the house speakers.
The idea for the chain came to Hart while he was recovering from a car crash in Malibu in 2019, which sent him to the hospital with a fractured spine. “When you come close to that light—and that light that I’m talking about is death—you value life differently,” he said shortly after his recuperation.
“During rehab, he incorporated more plant-based foods into his diet,” Hooper says. “He was trying to make changes but found that on the road, [vegan] options were not as prevalent. So we designed this menu for flexitarians and omnivores. We’re trying to convince the 97 percent of America who don’t eat vegan to indulge.”
Film producer Scott Lowe, who switched to a meatless diet after his father’s recent heart surgery, has sampled a Hart House burger and appreciates the familiar tastes of the brioche bun and caramelized onions. “It’s pretty close to an Islands burger,” he says. “The cheese is very convincing. You can feel the oil on your lips.”
Locations in Orange County and near USC are also in the works, with plans to spread nationwide. “He thinks about 50 years from now,” says Hooper of Hart’s intentions. “ ‘How do I do something of consequence and use my reach and celebrity for good?’ ”
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