Is America Ready for a Vegan Fast Food Chain?

Mikey Pozarik

The vegans are coming. But they’re bringing pesto meatballs. And guac burgers. And kale chocolate chip pancakes. So we guess we’re okay with it. 

And this time, we’re joining them as they make their modern-day pilgrim’s journey to by CHLOE. (and stealing that last pancake). The wildly successful New York City–based restaurant is the creation of Chloe Coscarelli, a 28-year-old vegan chef whose empire is growing rapidly and critical acclaim overflowing, and her co-partner, Samantha Wasser, creative director of ESquared Hospitality. As in, pretty much every major food magazine has written about it, and people line up around the block with Cronut-status reverence to get a taste of her baked goods. Forbes profiled it; GrubStreet called it 2015’s most surprising restaurant success story; your college roommate’s wife probably instagrammed a lunch that seems to have evolved beyond ugh-not-quinoa-again salads for the first time. And we’d put money on it being the next big fast-casual restaurant chain to sweep the nation.

But why? Who’s slinging up your wings today may be sizzled out tomorrow: Restaurants have a staggeringly high failure rate, with almost 60% closing in their first year of business, according to an Ohio State University study. And yet, in under a year (the flagship by CHLOE. opened in July 2015), the expansion plans are booming. Two new NYC locations are opening this summer, and in May by CHLOE. will be landing on the plant-based coast to join 365 by Whole Foods Market as their first partner in the Friends of 365 in-store program (we’re predicting this will be the first of many such collaborations). This summer will also see a location opening up in Boston as well as Sweets by Chloe, a standalone bakery concept in NYC (Coffee aficionados can look forward to Devocion coffee). More proof is in her instagram pudding, where an audience of over 54,000 followers acts as a digital cheerleading squad.

So why all the fuss? For one thing, you really don’t even notice the food is vegan. “We recipe-tested the core menu for two years before opening, even gaining the approval of suit-clad carnivores. When I was creating and testing the menu, I wanted to make sure that when by CHLOE. guests tasted the food, their initial thought would be, ‘Wow, that’s great!,’ not, ‘That’s great, for vegan,’ ” says Coscarelli. Her favorite picks on the menu, besides the bestselling and formidable guac burger, is the mac and cheese and spicy thai salad, along with the whiskey BBQ sandwich — smoky portobello mushrooms and seitan with sautéed kale, onion marmalade, grilled pineapple, and bourbon barbecue sauce on a potato bun.

For another thing, Chef Chloe just told us about the secret off-menu special: Oh So Fancy Fries. This food-coma-infused feast features air-baked fries with spicy seitan chorizo, grilled onions, cashew moss, and chipotle aioli. And we’re the first media outlet the restaurant has clued in on the unlisted gem. Better go quick, before Nate Diaz and other vegan UFC fighters start lining up…


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