Veggie burger manufacturer awarded city grant for expansion

Products from Lawrence-based Hilary’s Eat Well are pictured in this image from the company's press kit.

The City Commission has approved a grant that will help a Lawrence-based veggie burger manufacturer to expand its operations and to add about a dozen new employees.

At its meeting this week, the commission approved its share of a $30,000 grant for the expansion of Hilary’s Eat Well, which makes organic, plant-based foods. The city will provide $10,000 toward the grant, as will Douglas County and a group of local economic development organizations.

Hilary’s Eat Well is planning an approximately $1.5 million expansion near 23rd Street and Haskell Avenue, according to a city staff memo to the commission. The company plans to add new production equipment to its current space at 2205 Haskell Ave., and lease new space next door at 2151 Haskell Ave. to accommodate its growing warehouse operations.

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The company dates back to 2005, when Hilary Brown, the founder of former Lawrence restaurant Local Burger, created the veggie burger recipe. Several investment groups now own the company, which also produces veggie sausages and salad dressing and now employs 40 people locally. The company is a “second-chance” employer for individuals who have spent time in prison, struggled with addictions or have been homeless, according the memo.

The expansion will increase Hilary’s manufacturing capacity and provide on-site storage and refrigeration space, which is currently accommodated through leased property in the Kansas City area, according to the memo. The grant will help with employee training, moving and other expenses related to the expansion. The company estimates the expansion will support the addition of 12-14 new jobs over the next three years.

The city’s Public Incentives Review Committee reviewed the request earlier this month and voted 6-0 to recommend the grant for approval. The City Commission approved the grant as part of its consent agenda Tuesday, and the memo states that the county and the local development organizations provided “favorable responses” to the request.