Former Costco Executive Opens First USDA-Certified Organic Fast Food Chain

Erica Welton takes lessons learned at Costco to build her own business

Dissatisfied with fast food offerings on the market, Welton launched The Organic Coup to give consumers more options for quick organic meals on the go.

Chipotle might be GMO-free, but Erica Welton’s new fast food chain, The Organic Coup, takes revolutionizing fast food to the next level. A food buyer for Costco for 14 years, Welton tells Business Insider, “We saw this huge shift happening at Costco with people purchasing more and more organic food.”

Welton incorporated organic and unprocessed foods into her own life when feeding her family, but found options for quick, on the go, organic meals to be lacking, saying, “Chipotle is a great option, but we didn't want to eat there for every meal.” Hence, Welton launched Organic Coup, its first location opening last month in Pleasanton, California, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Eater says the name of the restaurant is a play on the word ‘coop,’ and signifies a coup on the conventional food system. Welton tells Eater of plans to open 25 locations in the next 14 months. She got The Organic Coup certified organic by the USDA in order to help gain consumer trust. “I didn’t really understand how few restaurants were certified,” she said. “I was shocked to find out that we were actually America’s first certified organic fast food chain.”

True to the Costco business model of “focusing on doing one thing great,” The Organic Coup’s specialty is its spicy fried chicken, made from organic, air-chilled chicken fried in coconut oil. Customers can get the fried chicken, with a range of sauces, on a bun, on a multigrain wrap, or in a bowl with shredded vegetables.

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The only side offered at the restaurant is organic popcorn covered in caramel and drizzled with chocolate, which a Yelp reviewer has referred to as “legal crack.” Another reviewer writes, “I love that it is organic and I don't have to think about what's in this. I also love that it was FAST. I ran in, ordered it and got back to the office with time to eat.”