Danielle Ricciardi and Daniel Strong: Chickpea and Olive

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A love story turned business venture, Chickpea and Olive serves what its owners call “peace on plate”– farm-to-table organic, vegan, local fare which they sell at markets year round. They also do catering and host cooking classes.

Danielle Ricciardi and Daniel Strong met at Dell’Anima, the West Village Italian restaurant where he was a sous chef and she was a bartender.  Looking back, it was their blossoming relationship that served as the catalyst to the business, Ricciardi said.

After she shared her dream to own a vegan restaurant, Strong became a vegan, and by July 2011, he decided to quit his job and sign on to pursue Ricciardi’s dream alongside her.

Ricciardi continued to bartend and serve fulltime, and she still does, while Strong worked full-time on the business, a 100-hour week labor of love, he said. For the remainder of 2011 and beginning of 2012, the team strategized; they updated their business plan weekly and refined their menu.

Since the brand currently operates primarily at seasonal food markets, its menu also changes seasonally. The holiday market menu offers a range of courses from $4 hot local cider to a “Thanksgiving Leftovers” platter of seitan (a gluten meat replacement), cranberry jam, Sullivan Street Bread, and pumpkin pie and gravy for $10.

The company is also looking expand its merchandise inventory beyond the $12 logo mug available for order on the website, as a different way to get the brand seen more widely, Ricciardi said.

Both Ricciardi and Strong agree the ultimate goal for Chickpea and Olive is a restaurant. Making that dream a reality, however, may take many years. But operating at the food market circuit as extensively as possible and building a following from the ground up is all in line with their plan. “Once we have the following and the capital, it would be an easy transition to a storefront,” Strong said.

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