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BY Abu Mubarik, 5:00pm March 23, 2023,

How this entrepreneur overcame obstacles to serve vegan options to Columbus

Shanna Dean. Photo credit: The Dispatch

Shanna Dean is the founder of Lifestyle Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. She overcame several obstacles to serve vegan options to her customers with the aim of making her community eat healthier. Just two months after launching her restaurant, she was hit by the pandemic.

Before that, business was “booming” and she had customers come into her restaurant frequently in the heat of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the call to support black businesses.

She had to downsize and take her business online to survive when the pandemic hit. However, the paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act funding provided much-needed relief during the pandemic.

The restaurant, which sits on East 18th streets in Columbus, serves vegan versions of chicken and waffles, tacos, and loaded fries.

“We have the best waffle in Columbus and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” Dean told 10tv. According to the first-time restaurant owner, Lifestyle Cafe was born out of a conversation between two friends over eating clean food.

“Lifestyle Cafe was born out of a conversation between friends about eating clean food that was delicious, like amazingly delicious, so that was our goal,” Dean said.

She continued, “When you are undercapitalized, you have inconsistencies with marketing, so it takes a lot of persistence, perseverance with just the stuff to keep going.”

Before starting Lifestyle Cafe, she worked part-time jobs as a server, as a personal chef, and as a stint in culinary school. “Little did I know, I was actually preparing myself. It’s funny how life is,” she told the Dispatch. “Even though the writing was on the wall, I never thought I would be opening a restaurant.” 

The idea of opening a restaurant came when her longtime friend and entrepreneur approached her to take a space vacated by the Angry Baker. After giving it some thought, she decided to take the offer.

“You have to be really creative,” Dean said. “But what infected me was the idea that I could feed people who are on their journey some food that will keep them on their journey.”

After doing all the necessary paperwork and nine runs of trials, including preparing a menu, which is 100% vegan, Lifestyle Cafe opened to the public.  

Dean says she became a vegan at the age of 24 based on health and ethical reasons.

“That’s what helped me with the menu, and coming up with things that people can really connect to,” Dean said. “When I cook at home, I want to have a pleasurable experience, so I lean on the spices and the flavors that made traditional foods appealing. It’s worked so far.”

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: March 23, 2023


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