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Samantha Wasser

By Chloe co-creator: Brand to ‘grow better’ without namesake founder

Samantha Wasser discusses the vegan chain’s growth

ESquared Hospitality, backer of the vegan By Chloe chain, plans to continue expanding the six-unit brand after an arbitrator’s ruling that allowed the concept to terminate ties with “Cupcake Wars” chef and restaurant namesake Chloe Coscarelli.

Co-creator Samantha Wasser, of New York-based ESquared, which also owns the BLT Steak brand, told Nation’s Restaurant News last week that despite the ruling, which allowed the company to end ties with Coscarelli, “Nothing has been put on hold.” 

“We’re exploring every opportunity that comes to us,” Wasser said. “This is not going to slow us down. If anything, this will help us grow better and faster.”

Wasser said Coscarelli had been terminated and no longer held an interest in By Chloe, which debuted in 2015. 

Coscarelli, through a PR representative, did not respond to requests for comment. 

With Coscarelli out of the company, the ruling opens new avenues for funding, Wasser said.

“We want to continue to bring great vegan food to the masses and stay true to who we are,” she said, noting that the arbitration with Coscarelli took four months, with 12 days of hearings, 600 pieces of discovery and thousands of emails.

“The independent arbitrator threw out all of Chloe’s claims and ruled in favor of ESquared, and found there were grounds for termination with cause,” Wasser said, adding that “it’s a horrible situation, and we’ve been dealing with the wrath of social media.

“It’s all because we’ve been trying to protect the company from someone who has been trying to tear it down,” she said.

Wasser said Coscarelli has not been in any By Chloe units for the past six months, including a unit that opened in Boston a month ago. 

ESquared will continue to use the By Chloe name.

“I created the name and the whole By Chloe branding,” Wasser said. “That was something that was never remotely discussed in arbitration.”

Despite a social-media backlash within the vegan community, Wasser said she is confident ESquared will continue to seek opportunities for the brand. 

“I understand the optics here: a big corporation going after an independent person and stealing her company,” Wasser said. “We were shocked when she started all this. We tried to sit down with her and reason with her. It’s unfortunate it turned out this way.” 

Coscarelli, a cookbook author and winner of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” TV competition, posted a “Thank You” to her 96,100 Instagram followers on March 29, two days after the ruling was reported.

“This year has been extremely painful — one that has challenged me to the core,” Coscarelli wrote in the post. “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.”

The five existing By Chloe restaurants and one Sweets unit are in Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

By Chloe’s menu includes vegan burgers, sandwiches, fries, pasta, salads, beer, wine, juices and baked goods in a fast-casual setting. Sandwiches range from $8.95 for avocado toast with vegetables and almond “Parmesan,” to $11.95 for the Whiskey BBQ with smoked portobello and seitan. Salads start at $10.95.

Last March, By Chloe partnered with Whole Foods Market to open a restaurant inside the grocer’s first 365 store in Los Angeles. 

Nation’s Restaurant News named the concept a Breakout Brand in 2016. NRN also named Coscarelli and Wasser to its Power List in 2017.

ESquared Hospitality launched in 2004, with BLT Steak, and has grown to more than 20 restaurants, including BLT Prime with David Burke, BLT Burger, BLT Market, Tavern 62, Casa Nonna, the Florentine, Horchata and The Wayfarer.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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