Vegan Hippie Chick celebrates successful first year in Welland

Marked occasion with ‘grand opening’ celebration

by Mike Zettel, Niagara This Week

Many businesses have what’s known as a soft opening, quietly running operations for a few days or weeks and then inviting everyone over for a grand-opening celebration.

Veggie Hippie Chick owner Mandy McCullough took things a little further.

On Saturday, McCullough held a grand opening for her Welland restaurant at 91 East Main St. — this despite having been in operation for a full year.

But what a year it’s been.

McCullough first opened a smaller cafe at 195 East Main last year, after a couple of years of selling vegan snacks out of farmers markets. McCullough said business took off, essentially condensing the multi-year business plan into just a few months.

She opened the full-fledged restaurant a couple months later, leaving the café to other proprietors.

Having never run a restaurant before, McCullough said the experience has been one of trial and error. She said she now feels that with the first year behind her, she and her team are now rooted.

“I wanted to get through that first year,” she said. “(Restaurants) are a hard business to establish. I just wanted to get through my first year to feel I had solid ground.”

McCullough said Saturday’s celebration, which featured lived music, prizes and a performance by magician Alex Kazam, was a way to thank the community for embracing the business.

“Welland has been amazing, they’ve really welcomed us,” she said. “It’s been a whirlwind but a good one.”