Niceness Counts: Profile Of Craig Cochran, Vegan Business Owner
100 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038
Terri, a fast-service vegan restaurant offering wraps, smoothies and desserts, recently expanded to a second location at 100 Maiden Lane in the busy Financial District. Earning good reviews among notoriously picky and blunt New Yorkers, even omnivores seemed impressed by the no-nonsense, yet tasty fare.
For co-owner Craig Cochran, satisfied omnivore customers were always part of his business plan. “It’s important to make them feel welcome so they not only return, but also have a good feeling about vegetarian and vegan food in general,” Cochran advised future vegan restaurant owners in 2010.
He added that by treating meat eaters well, they “may end up becoming converts.”
Yet niceness aside, how did Cochran and his business partner Michael Pease manage to build a successful and growing chain of vegan restaurants when only five percent of New Yorkers are vegan? For Terri’s owners, it was a mix of hard work, a dedication to a vegan lifestyle and a commitment to being nice.
Terri is not the first venture into the restaurant business for Cochran and Pease. Both from upstate New York, Cochran and Pease set out to learn the vegan restaurant business from established and successful business owners.
When seeking out flavors for the new restaurant, Cochran relied on his favorite foods from his meat-eating days and worked to reinvent them in a way that used organic, vegan ingredients that did not give up on the taste. He also understood that while he could substitute non-meat products for meat, a commitment to quality and a vegan lifestyle were uncompromising.
Most important to his business plan, Cochran set out to purposely hire nice people and treat them right. One of the first members of the Tav Ha Yosher certification, a program that recognizes kosher restaurants for their ethical treatment of workers, Terri’s works hard to keep employees and customers happy. Treating people kindly, Cochran hopes, will also encourage his meat-eating customers to have a better understanding of veganism.
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Tamar Auber is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.