NYC vegan chain by Chloe welcomes new CEO
- Oath Pizza’s former CEO Patrik Hellstrand will take the lead at the popular NYC-based vegan chain by Chloe, Restaurant Business reported Thursday. Hellstrand previously held director positions at Princess Cruise Lines, Conrad Hotels and most recently luxury gym Equinox.
- Hellstrand joins by Chloe at an important and tumultuous time for the rapidly growing company, owned by Esquared Hospitality. Co-founder and celebrity vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli was forced out of the company in 2017 due to alleged misdealings, but the company secured $31 million in funding led by Bain Capital earlier this year. Co-founder and creative director at Esquared Hospitality Samantha Wasser remains the company's brand evangelist.
- By Chloe now has nine locations in New York City, three in Boston, two in London and one in L.A., according to the company website.
A far cry from the earth-toned, crunchy-granola vibe espoused by other vegetarian and vegan chains, by Chloe embraced bright colors and indulgent choices — a Pesto Meatball Sub, vegan mac and cheese, a guac-slathered burger made from black beans and sweet potatoes, and a "Hostess" cupcake.
This unique branding approach, complete with punny menu names and playful design, focuses on making plant-based eating fun rather than preaching about concern for animal welfare or environmental sustainability — a move that may be the key to its success. The restaurant's overall aesthetic is often compared to Shake Shack, sans meat.
Since Coscarelli's very public ouster from the company, Wasserman has carried the brand's "eclectic and kitschy" vegan torch into multiple cities. According to QSR, she will work closely with Hellstrand as the company grows in select U.S. cities and abroad.
This expansion reflects the growth rate of the plant-based food category, which now boats sales of more than $3.7 billion, according to GFI data — a trend driven by consumer desire to eat less meat and make environmentally sustainable decisions. This interest hasn't gone unnoticed by investors. Native Foods Cafe, a 13-unit vegan chain based in Chicago, sold to a private equity firm in June, and California-based VeganBurg plans to add hundreds of units in the next few years.
Crunchbase lists by Chloe's total funding amount at $31 million and its annual revenue at $1 million, though exact numbers aren't available since it's a private company. The restaurant has expanded quickly, opening its first London store in February and a second this summer. Wasser told publication Well and Good in April that the chain plans to open 20 more locations across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East using its recent investment led by Bain Capital.
If the chain continues to gain momentum, it's possible it could inspire future plant-based upstarts to focus on attractive lifestyle branding rather than mission-based initiatives. The brand of veganism that embraces indulgence also seems to be one — if not the — driving trend of vegetarian and vegan food in mainstream culture. On a Thrillist list of 21 vegetarian restaurants, most feature some sort of faux-cheesy, faux-meaty, familiar goodness.