Hi there! My name is Christian Pilosi and I am the Founder/Owner/Head Chef/Marketing Guy/Vegan Outreach Coordinator of Scranton's first and only 100% vegan restaurant, eden-a vegan cafe. eden opened in November 2008 and in the past 5+ years we have brought our version of New American Vegan Cuisine to the public in a way that it has not been done before, and certainly has never been done on any way, shape or form in the Scranton area. Our menu consists of vegan versions of BLTs, Turkey Clubs, Meatball Subs, CheeseSteaks, Tuna Subs, a wide variety of Wraps, Specialty Burgers, Specialty Pizzas, Soups, Salads and Smoothies! We even have Vegan Buffalo and Barbecue Wings, and many, many seasonal specials that are all 100% vegan, which means no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no honey, no animal products of any kind! All of our mock meats are non-GMO, and we strive to use as much organic and local produce as possible. We use local bakeries for our breads and pizza dough because we believe in buying local as much as possible, and in that same way, we buy our produce at local Farmer's Markets when in season and build weekly specials around the offerings we find from local producers.
But let me back up just a bit and tell you more about myself and my journey to veganism. I was not born or raised vegan, but in 1997 I was exposed to information about factory farming and it was like a light bulb went on for me. One day soon after reading some information on what goes on in the process of turning animals into food, I was eating a chicken leg, looked down at my beloved canine friend Keesha, and immediately decided that I could not see any difference between eating a chicken's leg or eating my best friend's leg. So I became vegetarian, right there, on the spot. Just a few months later I gave up eggs and dairy as well, and became a vegan and also an animal rights activist.
Life went on as normal, outside of being vegan in Northeastern Pennsylvania in the late 1990's, which was certainly not the norm. I worked many different jobs. Before going vegan, throughout high school and college, I worked as a cook in several area nursing home kitchens as well as several family restaurants. I then moved on into the insurance industry and held jobs as a Marketing Coordinator, Sales Coach, Customer Service Rep, Underwriter, Trainer and Supervisor. I eventually finished college part time, and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. I always knew I wanted to combine my education, love of cooking, and passion for veganism into some sort of business where I could promote the healthy and cruelty-free way of living vegan! In 2007 I started to run with the idea of a vegan restaurant in Downtown Scranton, and in November of 2008 it became a reality!
Now, the restaurant business is a very tedious one, no matter who you are, where you are, or what kind of restaurant it is. A vegan restaurant in a decidedly un-vegan area was quite a risk, but I had to give it a shot and find out what would happen. We were delighted to find that people immediately came to check it out, and the word of mouth got around very quickly that you didn't have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy our food, you simply had to like really great tasting food! People were amazed and we were thrilled! Vegans and vegetarians came from far and wide to get to us, and omnivores came from everywhere as well, simply because the food was delicious and the atmosphere we created in the restaurant was friendly, warm and made customers feel at home, like friends and family. In 5 years, we have served so many and done so much for all things vegan. We have helped folks with their health issues, we have given information about cruelty to animals when they are raised for food, we have educated people on the impact animal agriculture has on the environment, and so much more. I have personally been on local television programs providing education, recipes and cooking demonstrations, I have been invited to talk to groups at universities, colleges, high schools, elementary schools, libraries, churches, corporations, health clubs and at many other events and at many other organizations. It's been a fantastic ride!
The economy and some things about Scranton have changed in the past year, and we saw a downturn in business. Scranton installed new parking meters, widened the time of enforcement, raised the fees and the fines, and changed the timing of many of the traffic lights downtown which has made it increasingly difficult for folks to easily come downtown. On Wednesday, January 8th, we announced that we would be forced to close our doors soon. What came next was humbling, inspiring and beautiful. There was an immediate and sustained outpouring of love and support for us from people in the community and areas far outside of the local community as well. It has been truly amazing. On our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/edenavegancafe, you can see just how beloved our place has become and how much it means to so many people. So we want to give everyone the opportunity to be part of saving eden!!! It starts here, with this campaign. And next I will explain why.
I have given everything I have to eden. In this past year, I have given everything to keep it going. I have not drawn a salary from the restaurant in over a year. I lived off my savings, which are now completely depleted. I have no regrets because I love what we do at eden and I love being there for our customers, but at this point, I have nothing left to give and I need funds to catch up personally, because my 10 year old daughter and I of course need to be able to survive financially and right now, I just am not able to do so. In order to save eden, I have come up with a Four Step Process.
Step One is this campaign to help me get back on my feet, pay all outstanding personal and business expenses, and be able to live the simply, very economical life we live, so that I can dedicate my efforts over the next few months to saving eden.
- Step Two is talking to the many people who have reached out to me in the past few days about partnering with/investing in/raising capital for eden. It has been overwhelming and if I can get my life on track financially, the next step of talking to everyone who is interested in giving new life to eden can and will happen.
- Step Three will be developing a Kickstarter campaign to raise additional capital to save eden in it's current Brick and Mortar form, or to reshape eden into a Food Truck business. The pros and cons of each will be discussed with the investors and partners in Step Two, and the way we move forward will be the way that we all decide is best. Either way, eden will have new life and be able to go on, in it's current form, or in a new way.
- Step Four will be to implement the plans that come together from the previous steps to push eden onward and upward, continuing to bring the public what they so desperately do not want to lose - our New American Vegan Cuisine!!!
What We Need & What You Get
Every dollar raised will be used to pay off all current debts and expenses, allowing me to get back just enough of what I have given so that I can survive financially while we move onto the next step in saving/reshaping eden. Whether we fall short of the goal, reach the goal, or go well beyond the goal, every dollar will be used wisely so that I can get out from under and back on top of things financially, just to survive long enough to get to the next steps and bring eden back.
I will give a few perks to those who contribute, such as personal thank you's on our Facebook page, some of my favorite vegan recipes, and personal vegan coaching sessions. Due to the nature of the current situation, the perks are necessarily no or low cost to me. However, if we get past Step One and onto Step Two and into Step Three, Step Three will include many valuable eden-related perks. This is just the first Step, but we need this Step to be successful in order to move on to the next Steps.
If you have ever been to eden-a vegan cafe, you know why you want to see it saved, whether it be in it's current Brick and Mortar location, or reshaped into eden on wheels so to speak, as a Food Truck Business. Either way, we will be able to continue to bring you delicious, vegan food that is one of a kind. The community wants our presence. If you already know us, then you have seen the incredibly outpouring of support on our Facebook page, in The Scranton Times newspaper and on the local news as well. In just three days, it has been a whirlwind of activity and people are reaching out and asking me to do whatever I can to save eden and that everyone wants to help. Now is your chance to help. I personally need this initial push just so I can breathe and survive while moving into Step Two. Without this initial financial push, I will be forced to go back into the workforce, leaving eden behind. That is not a choice, it will be a necessity without a successful Step One, without this campaign successfully raising the funds I need to keep life going forward.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can contribute by making a donation, however large or small, that is fantastic and I thank you from the bottom, top and sides of my heart! I have given everything of myself to eden, and the time has come to ask for those who love eden to help give a little bit back to me, so that the passion and dream can possibly live on and grow bigger and better!!!
But even if you can't contribute monetarily, you can still help in so many ways! Share this campaign on your Facebook or other Social Media pages! Tell your family and friends! If you see the campaign going well, start spreading the news to anyone who might want to be a partner or investor for Step Two. Spreading the word far and wide is the most important thing to do, whether you contribute $$$s or not, please share, talk, make noise and yell it from the rooftops!!!
I have promised everyone that I would not leave a stone unturned, so here I am, asking for your help to help me save eden. I love you all. Thanks for listening. <3