Vegan Restaurateurs Using the Lottery to Realize Their Dreams

Veganuary spoke with Caitlin Wright about how one of her client’s lottery winnings helped them realise their vegan restaurant dream! Read on to feel inspired…


For couple Bart Potenza and Joy Pierson, this dream became a reality over 20 years ago. They won $53,000 on the lottery according to The New York Times and while not being a sum they could retire on, it did change their lives forever.

With their winnings they were able to invest the money in a new restaurant. The restaurant would focus on vegan cooking – something very close to their hearts. They opened Candle 79 in New York City, and thankfully the restaurant quickly garnered a devoted following. But the dream didn’t end there as they have gone on to release their first cookbook entitled, ‘Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant.’

So what does the media have to say about the restaurant? In the Vegetarian Snob’s review of Candle 79, they closed their review with these sentiments:

It’s one of those perfect vegan restaurants that doesn’t play into the stereotypical vegan atmosphere and at first glance I wasn’t even sure that it was vegan! The beautiful interior matches the food quality; it’s all done wonderfully. They even have an all vegan beer and wine list.

What’s also made the restaurant a frequent spot for locals to dine at is the fact that the menu is affordable regardless of being in a prime location as New York City. And it certainly doesn’t feature any of these extravagant dishes in a recent Lottoland article, which they published on their website, entitled, ‘The World’s Most Expensive Food and Drink’. While Candle 79 pride themselves on their eclectic beer menu, it certainly doesn’t sell anything close to the Antarctic Nail Ale Beer for $1,275 a pint that features in Lottoland’s aforementioned article.

With affordability and innovative cooking approaches at the forefront of everything Candle 79 executes, it has steadily built up a reputation as one of the best vegan restaurants in NYC. Owner Joy Pierson said in her interview with the New York Times:

One thing people think is that with vegan cooking there’s going to be compromises. But you’re not missing anything. It’s about the herbs and spices and the things used to flavor foods.

And ultimately, this is what has made Candle 79 an unforgettable restaurant to visit.

For information on the restaurant’s menu and opening times, visit Candle 79’s official website. You can also read the entire story of the couple; from their lottery win, to their current status as restaurateurs and authors.

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