Local Vegan hotspot remains open thanks to community

Photo credit/ Autumn Granza

Eden-a Vegan owner, Christian Pilosi, makes the Amanda Wrap.

Autumn Granza, Community Editor

Eden-a Vegan Café will keep its doors open thanks to overwhelming support from the Scranton community.

The restaurant, located on Adams Avenue, is the first and only vegan restaurant in Scranton. The Café has been open since November 2008. Christian Pilosi, the owner, has been a vegan for almost 17 years.

In the first week of January, Pilosi made an announcement via Facebook that Eden was considering closing its doors in the next month or two if things did not change for the better. The decision was based on the fact that business had slowed down in Scranton as a whole and it was not feasible, financially, to remain open.

“I was thinking about closing and going back into the regular workforce. I have a 10 1/2 year old daughter. I am a single dad, so I just needed to do what I needed to do,” said Pilosi.

After making the announcement on Facebook, Pilosi walked away for about an hour. When he returned, he saw hundreds of comments people had left. It was then that he realized how much Eden meant to the community.

“So many people were upset,” said Amanda Walker-Serrano, an Eden employee since 2009. “It was like they wouldn’t let us leave, and it was amazing to see how important veganism is to people.”

The Sunday after making the announcement, Pilosi sat down and thought “what can I do?” The community was willing to help, and there was an outpouring of love and support not just from customers, but from the community at large.

Social media played a huge role in Eden’s revival. All announcements were made via Facebook and Twitter. Their story was tweeted by “Vegnews Magazine” and also by “Vegucated”, a vegetarian documentary.

After witnessing the outpouring of support, Pilosi came up with a four step plan to save Eden.

Step one was to raise money to keep the doors open. Pilosi utilized www.indigogo.com, a crowd funding site. The money raised from the site went toward stabilizing the business for a few months. The goal was to raise $9,000 in two weeks.

In the first 24 hours there was several thousand dollars already,” said Pilosi. “People donated from all over the country and even a few people from Brazil; funding came in locally, regionally, and nationally.”

Eden reached its goal of $9,000 in less than two weeks and then surpassed it, raising a grand total of $10,065.

“We got such positive press and so many new customers, it got crazy busy,” said Pilosi. “Our landlord called and offered to lower our rent by a third for the whole year, which was great. We had vendors bringing us some free items. It was just incredible.”

Step two, which is the step Pilosi is currently working on, is to try to connect with potential investors and partners. Since Pilosi announced he was considering closing Eden, people have showed interest in investing.

Once he is done talking to all potential investors and partners, the University of Scranton’s Small Business Development Center has offered to sit down with him to go over the pros and cons of each offer.

Eventually, step three is a “kickstarter” campaign on www.kickstarter.com, which is another crowd funding site. This campaign has to have a goal of something tangible, such as a food truck, which Eden is considering. Perks must also be given to people that fund Eden, such as private catering events or gift cards. This step may or may not be necessary depending on the outcome of step two.

The final step will be to pull it all together with the investors and partnerships and decide where to go from there. Pilosi said options on the table include investing in a food truck, expanding the restaurant space, or relocating. However, Pilosi does not want to relocate if it can be avoided.

“We want to encourage people to come downtown instead of pushing them away,” he said.

Students at Marywood are happy that Eden has remained open.

“I am pretty stoked,” said Gloria Dudek, junior music education major. “The service is great. The people there are always incredibly kind to me, and their edamame is to die for.”

Pilosi said he is encouraged about Eden’s future, thanks to the community support. The popular What the Fork (WTF!) Truck also made announcements on Facebook to help Eden, telling customers that anyone who donated $25 to Eden would get a $5 gift card to the WTF! truck.

“It’s just been a great community pulling together sort of story. People don’t want to see Eden leave. I mean, we knew that people liked what we do here but to the level that it got, it was just overwhelming and very humbling and very inspiring,” said Pilosi. “A small group of individuals can really make things happen.”