“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leading with Passion in Communities

I believe we all have something we’re passionate about. For some it may be music or art or fashion. For others it could be baseball or skiing or yoga. The possibilities are endless, but whatever your passion, it is likely something that inspires you, that can get you up in the morning, that you devote time and energy to and that brings you happiness.

To me this combination is a recipe for success and for friends of mine this is no exception. Over thirty-four years ago, Claire and Frank Criscuolo opened Claire’s Corner Copia, a vegetarian café in New Haven, CT. Growing up with garden fresh food and delicious made-from-scratch meals was something Claire came to appreciate when she went away to college, which is one of the things that inspired her and Frank to open the restaurant. Since then, they have been committed to using the highest quality, fresh ingredients in their dishes, including lots of organic produce and baking products. Over the years, they’ve improved upon their practices by removing trans fats from their tempting baked goods and taken a proactive approach to reducing their impact on the environment by installing energy saving appliances or by using environmentally friendly disposable items.

But one of the most fundamental and significant approaches they have taken over the years has been to establish strong and meaningful relationships, not only with their employees and customers but with groups and members of the local community. They offer an Artist in Residence program that allows local artists to showcase their work in the restaurant. They’ve raised and continue to raise thousands of dollars for many local charities and organizations including Aids Project New Haven, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and All Our Kin and they provide space for organizations to display their literature to help raise awareness to these causes. You can see and hear all about this from Frank and Claire in the following video:

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself...” When you eat at Claire’s Corner Copia, you not only support a great vegetarian restaurant, you support meaningful and compassionate organizations who strive to improve the lives of individuals in the community - which is ultimately good for everyone.

Please visit Claire’s at 1000 Chapel Street in New Haven, CT. You can find more information at the website. You can also become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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