Eden, a Vegan Cafe continues to adjust to COVID-19 guidelines


Sara Ross

Eden, a Vegan Cafe has extended its seating outdoors due to COVID-19’s regulations on the restaurant industry.

Sara Ross, Asst. News Editor

Almost every morning, Christian Pilosi, owner and head chef of Eden, a Vegan Cafe, prepares to open to customers around 11:30 a.m. He takes care of cleaning the kitchen, and Carlie Coolbaugh, his counterperson, washes down tables, counters, door handles and other surfaces.

On any usual day, all these cleaning procedures are part of the daily routine at Eden, but with COVID-19, they have become more frequent to ensure the safety of their customers.

The pandemic has impacted many of the aspects of running a restaurant, and according to Pilosi, he has been fortunate that both his locations in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre are still running smoothly. At their Wilkes-Barre cafe, however, they have only been open since October 2019, and adjusting to COVID-19’s regulations on the restaurant industry has not come without its challenges.

“At the beginning, it was very different and slow,” explained Coolbaugh. “We didn’t know what to anticipate just because we are so new.”

Back in March 2020, the pandemic made it difficult for many businesses to keep their doors open, and Eden was no exception. They had to rely on using delivery and pick-up services for takeout, as they were not offering indoor dining. Eden had to start utilizing Grubhub, a mobile food ordering and delivery platform, during quarantine to boost revenue.

In May, restaurants in the area were also provided with the chance to apply for an emergency loan courtesy of George Brown, the mayor of Wilkes- Barre. Eden, especially, was grateful for the outside help.

“Mayor Brown was very generous to restaurants. He provided us with the opportunity to apply for no interest, no payment loans, and Eden received a $7,500 loan,” said Pilosi.

Even with this assistance, Eden was still facing obstacles. With their distributors, Pilosi and Coolbaugh had to shift gears, as at the beginning of the virus, it was hard to acquire shipments of product. They usually receive desserts from Vegan Treats, a bakery in Bethlehem, every Tuesday, but they had to halt these orders temporarily.

Additionally, Eden is open at 25 percent indoor capacity, though as of Sept. 21, they will be able to be at 50 percent. Until then, they have been attracting more customers by providing the option of outdoor seating.

Now, since school is back in session, their most popular customers, Wilkes University students, have been returning to the cafe. Students, including junior, Sydney Rochette, often come to Eden and like being able to take their food outside.

“While it’s warm, it’s nice to have the option. I feel more comfortable eating outdoors,” said Rochette. “Hopefully, they will continue to have this seating into the fall.”

Eden even got creative with their menu and expanded with a few new items. The “Summer Picnic Plate” and the “Phriends from Mars Burger” are now part of their specials.

Other adjustments include spacing out their tables and adding a plexiglass cover in front of the cash register to further ensure both their employees’ and customers’ safety. Coolbaugh appreciates this addition because she spends the majority of her day behind the counter. There is a small note to remind customers to wear a mask when approaching the register as well.

With customers, Pilosi claims he has not had too much trouble with getting them to follow COVID-19 guidelines, but he has found some walking in without masks. To encourage customers to abide by COVID-19 guidelines, they have placed masks for sale at the front counter.

After a long day, around 6 p.m., Eden closes with the same routine. Coolbaugh and Pilosi wipe down the restaurant, and turn the open sign to closed. As each day passes, it has become easier to overcome the challenges COVID-19 has thrown their way. More than anything, the situation has taught them how to be resilient and stay positive even through the most unpredictable of times.