- Eating vegan is a trend that has been growing rapidly around the world.
- Vegan fast-food chain By Chloe has rapidly grown from a single New York City location to a worldwide chain, with its first London location opening on February 6. It’s drawn comparisons to McDonald’s because of its popularity and expansion plans.
- To see what the hype is all about, I went to a By Chloe restaurant to try some of the vegan fast food they offer.
Eating vegan is becoming more and more popular. A recent Nielsen report found that 40% of American consumers are actively trying to incorporate more vegan foods into their diets.
And By Chloe is trying to make the most of the trend. While it may not be “fast food” in the traditional sense, By Chloe serves inexpensive vegan food in a casual setup with a walk-up counter and strict no-reservation policy. Started in 2015 by Samantha Wasser and Chloe Coscarelli (who was later ousted from the company), By Chloe has transformed from a local vegan eatery in New York City to a worldwide fast food chain, with no plans of slowing down soon.
The chain now has 10 stores, including a new location in London, where another is on the way. On Thursday, By Chloe announced it had received $US31 million in funding from investors including Bain Capital, Kitchen Fund, Collaborative Fund, and TGP International/Qoot International to expand to 20 locations in the US and internationally.
“We are actively looking for additional international locations but are taking it one store at a time … we are very careful and intentional with each new location we select, and that will always be the case no matter how large we grow,” Wasser told Business Insider in February.
The company takes an eco-friendly approach to fast food by using locally sourced ingredients that are 100% free of all animal products and served in recyclable packaging. The menu has a variety of burgers, pastas, french fries, salads, and sweets, and instead of soda, it offers pressed juices, teas, and coffee. A “Grab & Go” shelf has convenient salads and juices that are pre-packaged and ready to eat.
I went to the chain’s flagship location in New York’s West Village to see what the vegan fast-food chain was like. Here’s what I found:
The restaurant had a decent amount of people in it when I visited, about 30 minutes after opening. Many were sitting at a large table in the middle, or at one of the surrounding tables for two. There was a crowd of people waiting for food, and food delivery drivers running in and out.
Here’s another view of what the inside looked like.
In place of where a traditional fast-food restaurant would have a soda machine, By Chloe had a selection of pressed juices and coconut water next to the to-go salads and dips.
Every to-go item had the ingredients listed out, including any allergens the product may contain.
Across the way was a water station in case you didn’t want to spend $US3 on a glass water bottle. The condiments station had a homemade beet ketchup and chipotle aioli sauce.
Like any fast-food restaurant, it had a selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and desserts. It also had pasta, brunch, craft beer, wine, and a hot tea menu. Everything was under $US12, on par with places like Chipotle or Moe’s.
None of the New York By Chloe locations accepts cash. Customers instead pay by credit or debit card or via the By Chloe app.
I ordered a “Classic Burger” with sweet potato fries and a cupcake. It cost about $US20 for the meal.
The vegan patty was made from tempeh, lentils, chia, and walnuts. It was topped with pickles, onion, lettuce, beet ketchup, “special sauce,” and a potato bun. I waited a little under 10 minutes for my food, and everything tasted fresh and super flavorful.
The sweet potato fries came in one size, about the size of a medium from traditional fast-food restaurants.
The cupcake tasted more like what you would get from a bakery than from a fast-food restaurant. Each location bakes their sweets in-house daily, including a vegan version of a Hostess cupcake and a few ice cream flavours.
It was a much nicer environment to eat in than traditional fast food.
There were plants all over the restaurant, and it had magazines available for customers while they were eating.
The restaurant feels like a step up from fast food, serving healthy, fresh choices in a bright, clean environment. While it lacks the ridiculously low prices that other fast food restaurants may have, the food is healthy, inexpensive, and delicious.
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