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    Fast-Casual Vegan Restaurant Opens

    On a smoldering July evening, a half-hour before closing, there’s a line at the counter at fast-casual vegan restaurant Love Again Local. Owner Elena Mascherino is called out front to help her staff fill the dinner orders, including several of their insanely popular Cuban Sandwich.


    “We’ve only been open for two weeks,” Elena says. “I had no idea we’d be this busy this soon.” That popularity led to some hiccups in the beginning. “ We sold out of the Cuban in the first four days, and already I need more staff,” she says. “But everyone tells me these are good problems to have.”


    The space is airy, with blackboard walls, wood accents and big windows. Local and small business- sourced plant-based deli meats and cheeses, and natural sodas, coconut water, and kombucha fill out the menu of healthy twists on classic favorites


    This is Elena’s first restaurant experience, though she did build a successful vegan cookie company, Love Chunk Cookies, out of the Artisan Exchange and distributed them locally to Whole Foods, Kimberton Whole Foods, and Mom’s Organic. The cookies are now baked fresh and available at her shop. Before that, she had a long career in retail buying and management, which she left to raise her three children. “After my last kid went to school, I needed to do something that gave me a sense of accomplishment,” she says.


    Enter Love Again Local. It’s the culmination of a 20-year dream. “I always wanted to open something like this,” she says. “There was a void in the market for really good vegan food.”


    Elena’s dream is a beautiful and busy reality now. “I think we’re going to be really busy when the West Chester University students come back — I’m going to accept the RAM card, and we’re looking into delivery to campus,” she says.


    Elena is quick to credit her husband and their kids with helping her achieve her dream. “This is my time to take this challenging and rewarding journey,” she says with determination. “I couldn’t do it without them.”


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