Bye, Chloe: Why By Chloe Has Split Ties with its Celebrity Cofounder
The vegan company cofounder, Samantha Wasser, says Chloe Coscarelli has never even visited their Boston restaurant.
Chef Chloe, we in Boston hardly knew ye… And if you ask the By Chloe cofounder, Samantha Wasser, that’s the crux of the issue that’s plaguing the company this week.
The news followed 12 days of arbitration in New York, after which an independent mediator declared Coscarelli showed “gross negligence” of the company and ruled in favor of By Chloe’s corporate parent, ESquared Hospitality, legal documents show. The process apparently began after Coscarelli sued ESquared, alleging, in part, that the company wanted to use the By Chloe brand to proffer non-vegan food. But that’s “so far from the truth,” Wasser says. “If it wasn’t so serious, it would be a laughing matter.”
Other contentions were over financing the brand’s rapid growth, the documents show. Wasser says the issues stemmed from Coscarelli losing sight of By Chloe.
“She was trying to build her own career as Chef Chloe over what is good for the brand,” she says.
Coscarelli’s publicist says, “Unfortunately, due to the ongoing legal process, we are not permitted to get into the details of the dispute or the allegations being made. Chloe vehemently denies any negligence or wrongdoing, in a matter which has not yet concluded.”
A By Chloe representative provided Boston documents from the arbitrator, which Eater New York also outlined in detail. Coscarelli was found to be “grossly negligent,” meaning she actively failed to work in the best interests of the company, by interfering with a lease for a potential new location, as well as in contract agreements with two potential chef-partners, causing those parties to walk away from deals with By Chloe. Other issues the judge found “troubling” included Coscarelli misappropriating a publicity opportunity and the sponsorship funds it generated. The binding ruling authorized ESquared to fire Coscarelli.
The chef, who, prior to By Chloe, was best known as the first-ever vegan to win the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, was a 50 percent partner in the fast-casual chain that bears her first name. Wasser, creative director of ESquared Hospitality and daughter of its CEO Jimmy Haber, says she and the ESquared PR team created the brand.
“We put Chloe as the face of it,” Wasser says, noting Coscarelli’s strong ties to and popularity within the vegan community. “We were cofounders and partners, and friends. Unfortunately, you put faith sometimes in the wrong people.”
After opening the first By Chloe restaurant in 2015, ESquared quickly ramped up with plans for more locations in New York City, L.A., and Boston. But Coscarelli “checked out,” according to Wasser. The chef did not come with her to scout locations in Boston, and has never visited the Seaport restaurant, Wasser says.
On her personal Instagram, Coscarelli posted a lengthy statement. In part, she wrote:
I developed every single recipe for the restaurant over the course of several years in my tiny apartment kitchen… I set my alarm to wake me up every half hour through the night to measure the progression of ice crystals in my ice cream recipes. I made 30 variations of beet ketchup and lined them up on my window sill to compare the difference in pink pigmentation. I turned my home into a vegan test kitchen and worked with my amazing vegan team from Natural Gourmet Institute to perfect every last detail. We tested every recipe literally hundreds of times. But it was a labor of love.
Ahead of the local opening, By Chloe representatives did not make Coscarelli available for interviews, telling Boston she “is not involved in the company on a day to day basis and is not an appropriate representative of the brand.” By Chloe’s corporate executive chef, Manuel Trevino, and corporate pastry chef, Richard Leach, oversaw menu development, including the exclusive Boston items, “with some help from one of their contributing chefs, Candice Hutchings of Edgy Veg.”
The statement to Boston from her publicist says Coscarelli “is very excited about her upcoming projects and is incredibly moved by the outpouring of love and support that her community has shown since the news was made public.”
For Wasser’s part, she says the days since the arbitration news have been “devastating.”
“It’s good, in one sense, that we can finally operate the restaurant, get funding to expand it, in the way it should be expanding,” she says. “It’s horrible to see all these great, loyal fans turn on us. I’ve been getting death threats. I’ve done nothing but trying to protect the brand for two years.”
There are no plans to rebrand the company. By Chloe plans to open its second Boston-area location in Fenway, and expand into Providence, R.I., this spring.
107 Seaport Blvd., eatbychloe.com.