Part II: David Tran, The Man Behind the Restaurant
I was fortunate to be able to speak extensively with David Tran who, with his wife, owns Vegan2Go. David is warm and genuine. When he speaks he exudes passion for veganism and compassion for others and the planet. He and his wife are both vegan and opened Vegan2Go in order to provide the community with healthy, affordable vegan food. Their motto is “cooking with love”, which is expressed in multiple ways. The take out boxes are biodegradable and the ingredients are animal-free, non-GMO, non-MSG, and mostly organic. You can tell each customer is important to him. He originally did not have raw vegan items on his menu until a customer requested them. Another customer has several food allergies and he is eager to prepare food that she can eat, making modifications to dishes where necessary. He also saw a demand for weekly meals to accommodate patrons too busy to cook and demand has grown since these became available.
Vegan2Go is integrated into the larger community as well, offering some meals without garlic and onion for Hare Krishna devotees. Students receive a 10% discount, food is free for police and firemen, and he takes pride in assisting people that are unable to afford his food. He partners with local farmers to use their produce in the restaurant and even has one farmer’s seasoned kale chips for sale. Extra food is donated to St. Francis House, which assists homeless people.
David’s background is in Information Technology (IT) working with National Defense, Telecommunication, and Health Insurance with 25+ years of database experience. He says his IT background complements the food business well and has allowed him the insight to streamline processes, promoting efficiency and lowering costs. As an example, he purchased a potato peeling machine so it didn’t have to be done by hand. David left IT about five years ago to serve as the coordinator for the opening of the Loving Hut restaurant (an international chain of vegan individually owned restaurants) in Orlando. He also helped cook about 2,000 meals without power for victims of Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans. He opened Vegan2Go in Gainesville in November 2012.
David’s dream is that every restaurant would be vegan, people would live in harmony with nature and each other and that the country’s health would improve. When you hear him talk about his vision, anything is possible.