Is London Ready for the By Chloe Vegan Revolution?

By Publications Checkout
Is London Ready for the By Chloe Vegan Revolution?

London will soon be awash in guacamole burgers.

By Chloe, the chic vegan chain whose flagship Greenwich Village location has lines stretching down Bleecker Street, will open its first international outpost in London’s Covent Garden this fall. More stores are planned for London, as well as the Middle East and Europe. Up to $13 million has been invested in the company's expansion.

The first By Chloe store opened in July 2015, causing a riotous demand for plant-based dishes, namely the guac burger, a black bean and quinoa patty with classic burger toppings—lettuce, tomato, onion—plus corn and a swath of smashed avocado, as well as a kale Caesar with shiitakes, bacon, and Parmesan. There are now seven stores in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles.  (Before the end of the year, New York will have two more By Chloes—at the South Street Seaport and at Rockefeller Center—and Providence will have its first location.) The stores also do a brisk business in grab-and-go items; cases are stock with bowls of Detox Kale salad with quinoa, edamame, and dried cranberries, and kombucha.

As compelling as the food is the clean, hippy-chic design with white brick walls and striped banquettes. The recognizable branding includes napkins emblazoned with the phrase "So Fresh and So Clean"  and customized, illustrated black boxes for cupcakes, such as the Hostess-evoking chocolate and vanilla cream-filled vegan-cupcakes from the Sweets by Chloe bakery.

By Chloe’s partner in the avalanche of international expansions is hospitality group TGP. (The company is making a habit of teaming with notable American-based chefs; last year it helped Dominique Ansel bring the cronut to London.)

The co-founder and president of By Chloe, Samantha Wasser, acknowledges that the company has already undergone ambitious expansion in the two years since it first opened. She sees London as strategic for the brand. “International expansion was always part of our long-term plan for By Chloe,” she says. “I’d read that London is one of the greatest food scenes in the world; once I visited, I saw what the hype was about. We’ve built a huge following on social media and have fans in multiple countries consistently asking when we’re coming.”

Wasser says By Chloe picked Covent Garden for the neighborhood vibe being “on brand" as well as for its foot traffic. She also confirms that the company is seeking to expand within London and has its eyes on additional locations to open within the next year.

The By Chloe menu in London will offer vegetable-based burgers, salads, sandwiches, fresh pastas, Sweets by Chloe, juices, and dairy-free ice cream. Wasser is still considering what the signature U.K. dish will be (in Boston, she created a hearts of palm “lobster roll”).

The rapid expansion of By Chloe coincides with the departure of the company’s namesake, co-founder, Chloe Coscarelli,  who has cited problems with the company’s partner Esquared hospitality group. (Coscarelli alleged that Esquared planned to open nonvegan restaurants with her name. A few months ago, her co-founder Wasser launched a new pasta chain Sosta; it doesn’t include the "Chloe" name; it does have meat on the menu, as well as gluten-free pasta.)

By Chloe’s customer base has increased steadily with its expansion. In 2015, it had an average of 22,000 customer checks per month; in 2017, that number has climbed to 110,000 checks. The company estimates sales are about $500,000 per month.

Since opening, By Chloe has sold 612,659 vegan burgers, or almost 840 burgers a day.

By Chloe’s move to London seems well timed. While there are some notable vegetarian restaurants, such as Vanilla Black, Mildreds, and Manna, it’s a city with an increasing number of nonmeat eaters. In 2016, the Telegraph reported that the number of vegans rose 360 percent from 2006. Google Trends indicates that searches for the term "vegan" have never been higher.

Such Chefs as Dan Barber, who brought his food waste-oriented pop-up restaurant Wasted to London last winter, observed that people in London are more ethically minded in their food habits than Americans. “People in London are very focused on food issues,” observed Barber. “You walk around with a water bottle, you’ll get a lot of looks.”

News by Bloomberg - edited by Hospitality Ireland