Bryn & Dane’s has built its brand as a counter-service restaurant chain with a healthful menu of smoothies, wraps, salads, and bowls.
Now it has gone a step further, rebranding as Fudi Fast Food, with an all-vegan menu.
The company started in early April with its affiliate in Entebbe, Uganda, and switched over at its flagship Plymouth Meeting location in late April. The Horsham location is expected to follow May 13.
For founder Bryn Davis, 36, who started the company in 2009 with a popcorn-and-smoothie stand inside a Horsham office building, it’s not much of a change. “Half of our menu was plant-based anyway,” Davis said. The move to fast food will help streamline preparation and service, which already is built around a slick touchscreen system.
Fudi’s breakfast menu includes breakfast wraps with egg substitute, plus bowls and steel-cut oatmeal with various add-ins. The lunch and early dinner menu is structured around wraps, salads, cornmeal-encrusted CHKN PCS with dipping sauces, popcorn popped in coconut oil,and smoothies.
There’s a cold-draft system with organic iced teas, garnished with mint grown on site, as well as an espresso bar with nondairy milks on tap. Hours for now are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; the food is available through major delivery apps.
This Fudi pivot grew out of what Davis called the growing pains that led Bryn & Dane’s to file for bankruptcy protection in January 2020, a move that followed the closings of joint-venture locations in Malvern and Center City. Another joint venture, in Bryn Mawr, closed later in 2020. The bankruptcy petition was withdrawn in November 2020.
Davis and his partners realized in March 2020 that the pandemic would yield uncertainty. “So we said, let’s capture this craziness,” Davis said. “What would we do if we could start over from scratch? We saw this whole plant-based portion of our business booming and it’s what we believe in anyway. Let’s dive in 100%.”
In 2008, Davis was a recent graduate of Elizabethtown College, on a mission to shed his college weight, when his Google search for “healthy fast food” fell short. He and his brother Dane, 8, with whom he shared a bedroom, began planning a start-up.
Bryn & Dane’s next locations included a drive-through in Horsham and a stand inside the Ambler YMCA. (Dane is now a 20-year-old sophomore at Villanova University.) Then came plans for expansion, including Malvern, Center City, Bryn Mawr, and a never-opened location in Doylestown.
» READ MORE: Entrepreneur Bryn Davis' Uganda connection
A last-minute humanitarian trip to Uganda in 2016 inspired Davis’ interest in the global food ecosystem.
He came back energized, eager to work with Ugandans on helping their food needs, in effect making it his mission to help create community-based restaurants. “I thought, how dope would it be just to teach them how I make money and then let them make their own money and teach them how to fish rather than just giving them cash?” Davis said.
“Since we want to do something profound, we said, ‘Let’s give the restaurants away,” he said. “We are not the saviors. We’re driven by the idea that we can build a network of like-minded individuals” to combat such problems as food scarcity.
What started was a regular shuttle between Horsham and Entebbe to open a “giving restaurant” and market there with a local entrepreneur.
It took about three years of navigating red tape and construction before the opening in April 2021. Its menu is similarly plant-based, though ubiquitous bananas show up in more dishes.
When Davis decided to retool the company, he said he realized: “We need a name that isn’t two individuals from Horsham. We need something that would be globally recognized, and Fudi is a name that everybody can say.”