Vegan Celebrity Chef Chloe Coscarelli on Getting Ousted from Her Restaurant
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal announced that after a lengthy legal battle, vegan celebrity chef Chloe Coscarelli would be parting with ESquared, the hospitality company behind her hit fast-casual spot, By Chloe. Now, Coscarelli is speaking out through an Instagram post saying, "I imagine this news has come as a surprise to many of you. Honestly, it’s quite surreal for me too."
The company opened its first shop in July 2015, and it was an instant success. Together, Coscarelli and Samantha Wasser, the daughter of ESquared CEO Jimmy Haber, opened a total of five locations in NYC, one in Boston and another in L.A.'s outpost of 365 by Whole Foods, and planned a number of other locations.
But according to legal documents obtained by Eater, an arbitrator found Coscarelli to be "grossly negligent." Wasser's team accused Coscarelli of sabotaging the business repeatedly. The battle apparently started last summer when Coscarelli sued ESquared, alleging the company wanted to add meat options to the strictly vegan menu.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out regarding the recent news, which revealed that I have been pushed out of by CHLOE.—the restaurant I founded in 2015. I imagine this news has come as a surprise to many of you. Honestly, it’s quite surreal for me too. I developed every single recipe for the restaurant over the course of several years in my tiny apartment kitchen. I slept on a couch in the living room with no bedroom of my own so that I could be close to my work in the kitchen and develop recipes 24/7, sleeping only 3 or 4 hours most nights, for years. I set my alarm to wake me up every half hour through the night to measure the progression of ice crystals in my ice cream recipes. I made 30 variations of beet ketchup and lined them up on my window sill to compare the difference in pink pigmentation. I turned my home into a vegan test kitchen and worked with my amazing vegan team from Natural Gourmet Institute to perfect every last detail. We tested every recipe literally hundreds of times. But it was a labor of love. From the day I began this journey, my goal was to create a fun, friendly restaurant that showcased how delicious vegan food can make a powerful and positive impact in the world —a belief that has never for a moment wavered. To me, veganism is so much more than a vehicle for business; it’s a vote for kindness, a dedication to sustainability, and a commitment to compassion. It’s a lifestyle I adopted more than a decade ago, and will forever be proud of, champion, and defend. This year has been extremely painful—one that has challenged me to the core. But I will not let anyone deter my goals. I am committed to being strong and positive, and will continue to champion vegan cuisine and what it stands for. To budding entrepreneurs, I hope my journey inspires you to stand up for what’s right, even if it feels scary, and hope you never lose sight of your core mission. I haven’t. I won’t. I have some exciting new projects in the works and can’t wait to fill you in soon. Until then, I want to thank each and every one of you for your love and support. Community is everything, and I am eternally grateful to be a part of yours. Onward and upward! #vegan
Coscarelli, who was the first vegan chef to win a TV cooking competition and has been vegan for over a decade, says in her post, "I am committed to being strong and positive, and will continue to champion vegan cuisine and what it stands for." She is also committed to fighting ESquared to not use her name, saying, “I will protect the integrity of my brand.”
This isn't the last we will hear of her. She ends her post saying, "I have some exciting new projects in the works and can’t wait to fill you in soon."
Meanwhile, Wasser and ESquared will continue to operate and expand By Chloe. Wasser tells Tasting Table that nothing will change about the company "other than the fact that we are finally able to grow, expand, and bring our concept to more diners nationwide without anyone holding us back." She and her team are opening another location in Boston, one in Providence and two more in New York. She is also prepared to fight to protect the brand, which she calls "my baby...I created the design, branding, social identity, and even came up with the name."
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