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Additional Resources

Visit AMY’S Drive-Thru Restaurant’s website.

For information about this project, contact Kevin Falkerson (principal, GRP) or Kerrie Lee Cole (GRP) at: 707.824.0314;; or visit

Learn about SYMBIOS in The Directory.

Case Studies

Trachtenburg Architects, SYMBIOS ecotecture.


April 29, 2019 Featured Project: AMY’S Drive-Thru Restaurant by Linda S. Velazquez on; April 26, 2019 AMY’S to Open Third Vegan-Friendly Drive-Thru in California by Nicole Axworthy in VegNews; February 20, 2016 The design secrets behind California’s newest fast food innovation by Kim Renfro in Business Insider; June 18, 2015 Amy’s Kitchen Is Opening An All Vegetarian Drive-Thru by Kate Bratskeir in The Huffington Post; June 13, 2015 Green Roof Tops New Amy’s Drive-Thru by Bruce Robinson in KRCB Radio where you can hear a broadcast including commentary from Kerrie Lee Cole and Kevin Falkerson of Symbios; June 2, 2015 Amy’s Kitchen Is Starting a Vegetarian Drive-Thru by Alice Park in Time.


Watch the 2:22 AMY’S Drive-Thru Restaurant – Featured Project video on the greenroofsTV channel on YouTube.

After their daughter Amy was born, Amy’s Kitchen founders Andy and Rachel Berliner started their healthy, successful line of vegetarian frozen dinners in 1987 for parents on the go throughout the U.S. and UK. The vegetarian food company famed for its all-natural convenience food and sustainable commitment, opened AMY’S Drive-Thru Restaurant in June, 2015 and it doesn’t take long to notice that the fast-food enterprise has reinvented itself.

According to their website, “Amy’s Drive Thru is returning to the roots of American fast food, serving lovingly handcrafted food to nourish hard-working citizens, busy families and road-weary travelers.” The food served is all vegetarian, organic and non-­GMO while the building literally sprouts a vegetative ‘living’ roof, which speaks to the values of the company. Instead of broadcasting symbols of golden arches, a mosaic of plants cover the roof projecting a strong presence and visual appeal, a water storage tower holds rainwater, and a solar array provides electrons for energy.

Designed to be all-around eco-friendly, AMY’S Drive-Thru Restaurant is light, bright and family friendly. The building is constructed from a reclaimed barn, the tables are from retired auto brake drums whose wood was culled from off-cuts or upcycled from discarded pieces, and the small amount of new wood is Forest Stewardship certified. Tableware is all recyclable using non-GMO materials; for example, the takeout bags and boxes are printed with non-GMO ink. Even the straws are recycled.

“…every meal is hand made, which means the restaurant’s kitchen is bigger than most fast-food chains. The vegetarian burgers, for example, will be grilled on site and the buns toasted to order. And for all that manual labor, menu prices at Amy’s Drive-Thru are on par with more popular carnivorous food chains. Burgers will cost $2.99 (doubles will be $4.29), while cheese pizzas will go for $5.89, burritos for $4.69 and salads from $3.99 to $7.99.” ~ Time, 2015

SYMBIOS ecotecture designed and installed the integrated living roof to enhance the building’s energy performance, effectively managing stormwater as well as offsetting the development’s impact by providing habitat for wildlife. The 5:12 slope of the gable roof (23%) allows for good views of the garden roof from the street, the parking lot, or almost anywhere on the grounds. The high slope condition required a soil-confinement system that is structurally supported and tension-balanced over the roof’s ridge top.

The 13 species of selected perennial plants are pollinator friendly, drought-tolerant, and possess a seasonal vibrant flower display ranging in height from 6″ to 18″ tall. Within hours of planting, honeybees were spotted on the new vegetated roof. The two sides of the ridge’s steep slopes created a connected ecosystem for the plants which models the ecology on the ground.

SYMBIOS also developed a specialized rooftop soil blend containing Bio-char in order to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The vegetation and microbes in the rooftop soil add to the air purifying aspect while consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Rainwater is harvested on-site and stored in the water tower to be used for irrigation and during the summer dry season, municipal recycled water is used. In this way, no potable water is utilized to support the ground-base or rooftop landscapes.

AMY’S Kitchen’s commitment to sustainable development extends beyond the building’s footprint. The site houses a 15Kw solar array canopy that the cars drive under on their way to pick-up their meals. Walk-in guests with electric cars can use the charging stations in the parking lot while they dine. Stormwater generated from the parking lot is directed into bioswales and on-site stormwater detection areas in order to clean and sink water into the ground. The ground landscape also ventures from the status quo and is planted with a diverse mix of drought tolerate Mediterranean perennials and California natives.

Thinking ahead to replicate more of these unconventional drive-thrus, AMY’S Drive-Thru hopes to incorporate the water tank and living roof on future restaurants. Put all this together and you come close to having a ‘living building’ prototype that serves-up healthy organic food for the modern ‘time-crunched’ world.

Replacing a shuttered Denny’s restaurant, in early 2019 the company broke ground on its second drive-through location in Corte Madera, CA.  And on April 26, 2019 AMY’S announced they were opening their third vegan friendly drive-thru with a living roof in California in Walnut Creek


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