With the New Year approaching, the question is being asked: “what’s next in wellness dining?” For CEO/Co-Founder Tosh Berman of Tocaya Organica, he’s changing the way health is being consumed, particularly in the fast-casual space. With a wellness-driven approach to the overall restaurant experience, Tocaya Organica allows guests have more control and knowledge about what goes into their bodies, finding comfort in the plant-based, organic-centric menu.
To tailor these diverse preferences, Berman and his team have created a modern, elevated concept that showcases an inclusive, vegan-first model to satisfy every dietary preference, giving non-vegans the ability to opt in with their choice of grass-fed meat, free-range chicken and fish that is fresh, never frozen. Featuring a selection of tacos, burritos, salads, quesadillas, and bowls that vegans and non-vegans alongside KETO and gluten-free guests can all enjoy together, Tocaya Organica has proven to be an approachable, yet sophisticated restaurant at which neither flavor nor health are ever sacrificed for indulgent Mexican food.
“Tocaya Organica was born from a mission of better eating and a lack of ingredient-driven concepts in the fast-casual space. We've always eaten healthy, but there wasn't truly craveable healthy food and it felt like diners needed to make a sacrifice,” says Berman. “We reimagined a fine dining environment with an emphasis on temperature, experience, sound, lighting, and atmosphere (TESLA) to provide guests with a new way to consume wellness-driven cuisine, all while having a low carbon footprint. We cater towards people who not only have food discerning elements in their diets, but also who care about their bodies and their overall health and wellness.”
Located at Scottdale’s Kierland Commons and Fashion Square, Tocaya Organica has rapidly grown since its first location in Venice, California in 2016, now operating more than a dozen locations throughout Southern California and Arizona with plans to open additional stores by the end of the year, including Biltmore and Tempe. Further exhibiting a commitment to wellness living, Tocaya Organica recently launched its new charitable arm, Tocaya Life Foundation, dedicated to social and environmental causes such as sustainability, alternative farming, and ocean preservation.
“The environment is monumentally important to us, so we put our heads together to think outside the box to come up with immediate ways that we can give back. We are eager to begin working with innovative companies that share the same passion for making the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations,” says Berman.
President Michael “Mikey” Tanha adds, “We are intentionally and excitedly launching an initiative that is central to our brand identity in every way. While we have empathy for numerous causes, we are nothing without our environment, and Tocaya Organica is committed to keeping our eye on the ball and taking the necessary steps to initiate gradual, yet long-term change.”
For the foundation’s debut, Tocaya Organica introduced its “Wave Tank” initiative. Similar to the concept of “Shark Tank,” Tocaya Life Foundation will invite three environmentally focused nonprofits each quarter to pitch the company’s executives on why Tocaya Organica should partner with their company. The first-place winner of Wave Tank will be named as the restaurant’s official partner for the upcoming quarter, during which the two companies will create an in-restaurant promotion with proceeds to benefit the organization, in addition to co-branding efforts and marketing content. Nonprofits that place second and third during the quarterly competition will each receive a cash donation—$10,000 and $5,000 respectively—rewarding each organization with a substantial monetary investment from Tocaya Life Foundation to kickstart their campaign and future fundraising efforts.
In addition to Wave Tank, Tocaya Life Foundation has plans to launch several other meaningful wellness-driven initiatives this year both in the restaurants and internally as a company, such as Heart of the House, bringing waste and sustainability conversations to the back-of-house operations; Round Up for Charity, rounding up a guest’s check by adding change that is given to a charitable organization; and Service Time Off, an employee benefit allowing the team to take pride in serving the cause and getting out in the field.
Tocaya Organica’s sister concept—the sophisticated, fine dining restaurant and lounge Toca Madera—will open its doors this fall at Scottsdale’s Fashion Square, marking the restaurant’s second-ever location.
By Jennifer Padilla
Photo Courtesy of Tocaya Organica