Francesca Chaney is no stranger to hard work, resilience, and innovation.
The 21-year-old entrepreneur officially opened her vegan restaurant Sol Sips April 5 in her beloved Brooklyn. What started off as a temporary pop-up shop, now has become a full-fledged restaurant in a permanent location. The restaurant serves dishes from a plant-based menu. However, Chaney has not always been about that vegan life.
At an early age, Chaney flirted with the idea of being a vegetarian when she was 16 years old. The only food options she had access to was fried tofu and broccoli from a local Chinese restaurant. It wasn't until about three years ago, around the time she began developing her Sol Sips brand when she became a vegan.“The response that we got in the three months was really positive,” Cheney told VIBE of the pop-up shop. “We got a lot of feedback that encouraged us to keep going, so what it’s grown into is making these foods accessible to everyone.”
She started selling her very own beverages and unique herbal tea mixtures at local events and festivals which help her get the pop-up shop. Then, her popularity as a restauranteur grew online spawning an enthusiastic fanbase that ultimately led her to the Sol Sips permanent locale.
"We were doing events, weekend gigs, and festivals and we had an opportunity to do a pop-up [cafe] in an actual space," she said. "It was our trial period to test that vision with regular, local people, as opposed to somebody that is going to the festival because they know that they want to buy certain things. This was solely to be in the space of community."
When it’s #grandopening day and you have no behavior 😌😝🤨. We’re operating today (8am-8pm) with a super special ribbon cutting at 11:30am by our very own #brooklynboroughpresident @bpericadams | Come thru and show love, we’ve arrived fam 🙏🏾♥️🚀 #solsipsnyc #wemadeit #openingday #wevearrived #happyday #grandopening #vegan #bushwick #madeinbrooklyn #blackgirlmagic #wegotthejuice #plantbasedbites
The Brooklyn College student said that it was hard balancing school and opening the business but her family and friends helped her through it all. In 2017, she opened the pop-up shop during the same week of her final exams.
"Coming into the spring semester [at Brooklyn College]," she recalled, "I had a conversation with my parents and my family, they were like, 'We support you, whatever you want to do. If you feel like you’re comfortable going straight through, do it. If you want to take a break, do that. Just know that you’re supported.'"
Our #GrandOpening was a great opportunity to improve on our #StandardOperations! We mentioned yesterday that this was the busiest we had ever seen #SolSips. While our grand opening was a great success, we do acknowledge our inefficiency in being able to accommodate everyone in a timely manner. Moving forward, we’ve shortened our menu to the most popular bites that we can make in high-demand (please see next post). We’ve also considered our cooking set-up as well! In addition, we’ve shortened our hours to ensure that we have enough time for self-care and prep to ensure serving everyone in full capacity!!! All updates are effective as of today. Our business hours have been updated on google business and all other platforms! #solsips #madeinbrooklyn #startsmallthinkbig #transparentbusiness #integrity #service #love #understanding #feedback #organic #vegan #bites #bevs #plantbased #smalloperation #startup #justthebeginning #moretocome
Most of the meals consist of only four ingredients and prices range from $3- $15. Specialty dishes include a variety of locally-sourced vegetables. She also has menu options utilizing the popular jackfruit and vegan versions of dairy products.
Chaney wants to provide better food options for communities that need it. Within the next 10 years, she wants to have pop-shops in other neighborhoods.
"I also look forward to connecting with people who are already doing the work, who are lobbying [for better foods in different communities]," she said. "We plan to connect and exchange energies with everyone, and offer what we can."