Meet the Founder: Craig Susser of Craig’s Vegan

Craig Susser

It’s not just “vegan ice cream.” As founder Craig Susser explains, Craig’s Vegan is “an ice cream that is rich and delicious…and just happens to be vegan.”

Restaurants and customer service run deep in Craig’s blood. He worked at L.A.’s legendary Dan Tana’s for decades — moving up from waiter to bartender to maître d’ and general manager before opening Craig’s in West Hollywood in 2011. Many of Dan Tana’s regulars moved with him, making it an immediate success with frequent star sightings. As customers started requesting vegan-friendly dishes, Craig and his team obliged, and their cashew ice cream quickly turned into a must-have on the menu.

Like many restaurants, Craig’s has moved to pick-up and delivery to continue serving customers. But you can also indulge in Melrose Mint Chip, Kursten’s PB Krunch, Sunset & Strawberry, or Killa’ Vanilla at your own private table.

It takes more than ingredients like organic cocoa butter and pure vanilla extract to craft a world-class dairy-free ice cream. For Craig, it’s a 24/7/365 labor of love. Recently, we caught up with Craig to get the scoop on his journey and hear his advice for fellow entrepreneurs.

Craig's Vegan Ice Cream

01Why did you start Craig’s Vegan?

Craig’s Vegan is an organic extension of Craig’s Restaurant, which we opened in 2011. Our customers started asking us for vegan items – we started with one and it was a hit. Before we knew it, we had an entire vegan section on our menu!

The popularity of the vegan items made us realize we needed to offer a complete experience, and it’s not a complete meal without dessert. That’s when we introduced our cashew-based vegan ice cream. People were ordering seconds and thirds to-go – clearly, we were onto something. That’s how Craig’s Vegan was born.

02 What obstacles did you face along the way?

Seven years ago, the notion of ice cream made with anything other than milk seemed outrageous. That posed a number of obstacles for us. Finding the best dairy-free ingredients, nailing down the right people to supply them for us, working with the suppliers to have them meet our specifications…that all added up to months of hard work for our team before we could hit the ground running.

Ice Cream Cone

03What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Never give up. Also, never forget that there is a solution for every obstacle you’ll face. We encountered numerous problems along the way, but with passion and determination, we’ve been able to provide everyone with a delicious and beloved non-dairy dessert.

04 What’s on the horizon for Craig’s Vegan?

Craig’s Vegan is scaling up. Larger production volume. An even larger lineup of new and exciting flavors. Expanding to more markets in the U.S. We’re doing all of that, and more, while maintaining our same commitment to exceptional quality and constantly improving our product.

Vegan Ice Cream

05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?

Frankly, finding the right work/life balance is a constant struggle for me, and I need to do a better job of it. It’s like the old saying – nobody at the end of their life has ever said, “I wish I spent more time working.”

With that said, my work makes people happy, and that gives me so much joy. Craig’s Vegan is bringing guilt-free smiles to faces everywhere, and that’s why you’ll always see me smiling, even after a challenging day of work.

2 comments

  1. Marilyn Resnick says:

    Craigs is a wonderful restaurant owned by a great guy !!

  2. Nikki Eyo says:

    Hi Marilyn, it is indeed. We’re glad you love it!

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