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Before vegan concept by CHLOE opened in New York City, creative director Samantha Wasser was a fan of another Manhattan fast casual: Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings.
Now the two brands have collaborated to create a Guac Burger Dumpling that will be available at Mimi Cheng’s throughout the month of March.
“I’ve always been a fan of Mimi Cheng’s. I remember I went the week that they opened and I was an avid follower of their monthly dumplings, and I always thought how cool it would be to collaborate with them,” Wasser says. Then, about two months ago, co-owner Marian Cheng reached out to the by CHLOE team about creating a dumpling together. “I think I responded within half a second: Yes!”
At the menu level, the two concepts appear to have little in common. All the core menu items at Mimi Cheng’s feature some animal-based ingredient like pork, chicken, or even eggs, while by CHLOE is 100 percent vegan.
However, Wasser points out that the fast casuals share many of the same fans. Furthermore, both are Fast Casual 2.0 concepts helmed by a pair of young women—sisters Marian and Hannah Cheng at Mimi Cheng’s and Wasser and chef Chloe Coscarelli at by CHLOE—who are actively shaping the future of limited service.
Wasser says that while by CHLOE and Mimi Cheng’s have customers in common, she thinks the limited-time Guac Burger Dumpling will attract new customers to both brands.
“Because it’s only available for a month, it’s more of a call to action; you’ve got to come in and try it,” she says. “Our fans really overlap, and I’m sure we’re going to have fans of Mimi Cheng’s who now know about us and vice versa, so I just think it’s an awesome partnership.”
This isn't the first time two New York City fast casuals have collaborated on a new menu item. Last summer, Dig Inn teamed up with Luke's Lobster on a new Lobster Bake menu item that ran for a limited time.
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, Wasser says, even though the dumpling debuted in the middle of the week. She says she's excited to see how much more demand spikes on Saturday and Sunday.
Social media is also helping drive the promotion and connect fans.
"People just love to take pictures of both of our foods. I think they’re both Instagram-able, I guess you would say. Through that, we’ve both built up this following that has been so loyal to both of us,” Wasser says, adding that she posted a picture of the Guac Burger Dumpling and received a flurry of support. “I have gotten so many comments back, like, ‘My two favorite places have now launched this [special].’”
Wasser says she can imagine collaborations with other brands in the future, but for now, she’s craving more dumplings.
By Nicole Duncan