New Yorkers are really lucky. They have new vegan restaurants popping up all over their city all the time! It’s hard not to be a little jealous of them. I had the pleasure of dining at the new Candle Cafe West with Allyson while we were in New York for the IACP Conference. The menu is very diverse, mixing both the elegance of Candle 79 and approachable, freshness of Candle Cafe East. You can tell right away when you step in the door that the owners and the staff care not only about your experience, but about your health and happiness.
The new location is stunning and large for New York standards. It boasts a long bar where you can grab a drink with friends after work and have a bite to eat by yourself without feeling out of place. The whole place just feels warm and cozy, and the staff is top notch and friendly. And of course the food is wonderful, but you probably knew I’d say that 🙂
I wanted to pick the brains of the owners, Joy and Bart, on how they’ve become so successful and what the future holds for Candle and veganism. You can tell from their answers that they understand what it means to have a compassionate vegan business. Their kindness and well wishes for all come through in everything they do.
photo by Gena Hamshaw
Candle Cafe West is now your third restaurant. Why open another one, what is your inspiration and why is it different than the other two restaurants?
It has always been our goal to feed as many people great-tasting, organic, plant-based food as possible and a new Candle Cafe was one way to do that. We have had many requests through the years for an Upper West Side location and a really attractive space presented itself this past winter.
Do you see yourself opening other locations outside of New York? What is on the horizon for Candle?
We believe a Candle Cafe would benefit any community. Our committed team and chefs are driving this mission that we started over 25 years ago. Growth is on our horizon and is reflected in our outreach with our Candle Cafe Frozen Entrees available at Whole Foods Markets nationally and our user friendly cookbooks. More manifestations of our mission will follow because the trend is our friend and we love what we do.
Do you think that veganism is going mainstream? If you had to guess what percentage of your customers are omnivore?
I believe veganism is more accepted now and is much more a part of a chosen lifestyle. What we are seeing most of all is that more and more people are substituting plant based meals into their old diet patterns. The majority of our client base is omnivorous with only a small but very vocal and powerful amount being vegan. We guess that over 80% of our customers are omnivores – they just love the cuisine and its international flavors and freshness factor.
What advice do you have for other vegan business owners who are helping grow the vegan trend?
Be open to the idea that it is a growth industry but it takes passion, patience and perseverance. The mission will drive the concept but it’s best to be flexible and aware of the food prejudices you may have to overcome. That said you always have to remember the mission and why you are doing what you are doing. For us that has always been to help and heal people with delicious plant based cuisine.
Thanks so much to Bart and Joy for taking the time to chat with us today!
Here is a cool spring and summer refresher that is currently served up at Candle Cafe. Enjoy!
Makes one icy fresh smoothie
2 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces lime juice
4 ounce cucumber juice (if you can’t juice cucumber you can use 1/2 a peeled and deseeded cucumber, diced)
1 ounce agave nectar
6 fresh mint leaves + some for garnish
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is all broken up. Blend for longer if you want it more liquefied. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and fresh mint leaf.
And be sure to check out my Kale Waldorf Salad over at One Green Planet!