Get Rich and Save the World | Chad Goodwin
What happens when a passion for entrepreneurship and wanting to save the world finally meets a business model that makes sense? Chad Goodwin, co-owner of Eden Burger and owner of 4th & State, had no culinary experience prior to hatching the idea for his first vegan restaurant concept. Having never worked in a restaurant kitchen a day in his life, his only food related experience was front of house working jobs as a host, server, and busboy.
Chad and his friend group had been testing out various business ideas since they were 18. He always knew he wanted to take the path of entrepreneurship, and not fall into the 9-5 trap. Having the creative autonomy to be able to go and do what he wanted had been a driving force in Chad’s entrepreneurial endeavors.
He looked at Mark Zuckerberg, who created facebook from his dorm room. At the time he and his friends were sitting in their dorm room thinking “if we had 40 billion dollars and we see all these issues with the political system or the socioeconomic disparity in society, and the poorer communities not getting the help or access to clean food and water- or whatever it is, there is just a grand amount of problems all over the world. If we had a bunch of money I’d sure to love to spend it and solve some”.
Using his creativity and work ethic, he wants to “get rich and save the world” (a phrase coined by he and his friend group when they were all 18 or 19), but what does that mean? How is he doing it?
The journey to being a vegan restauranteur started when Sebastian Kovach (co-owner of Eden Burger), who was Chad’s roommate, came home and told him about a documentary he’d watched that outlined the harmful environmental impacts of large scale animal agriculture. After watching the documentary himself, Chad quickly decided that it was time to go vegan with his buddy Sebastian.
While it was easy to accept the ideology of veganism, the practicality of going vegan was a little more difficult. The global sustainability of veganism was (and continues to be) a driving factor. We all need the earth and the environment to survive, so actively living in a way that helps preserve the planet is really important. Being young and passionate about making a change helped, but the Columbus vegan food scene was not as big 3-4 years ago when he made this lifestyle change. There were very few vegan restaurants, “regular” restaurants didn’t have very good vegan options, and even grocery stores didn’t have the variety of plant-based products they carry today.
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The social aspect of going vegan, according to Chad, was one of the most difficult parts of the process. Suddenly you go to your usual dinner spot with your family, and you can’t eat anything on the menu. You get pushback from friends, family, and coworkers who don’t understand why you decided to change your lifestyle. Fortunately the people in his life started to come around and wanted to learn more about how going vegan can have a positive impact on the planet. Even changing your diet to eat plant-based or vegan a few meals per week makes a difference.
After starting up several businesses that didn’t make money, dropping out of college not once but twice, and moving to California to test out an app idea, Chad’s entrepreneurship journey brought him back to Columbus, Ohio. He and Sebastian experimented with vegan burger recipes, using ingredients from a local Whole Foods, and started having pop-up events in their home and around the city. The vegan community of Columbus was wildly supportive of this venture, and soon enough, Eden Burger was born in 2017!
“Every day we’re in service executing our values, we don’t have to wait 10 years until when we’ve made a ton of money- we’re chipping away at the goal daily”, says Chad. He wants to continue getting restaurants off the ground that make it easier and more accessible to live vegan without sacrificing the social benefits of having a meal out. At both Eden Burger and 4th & State, he and his team(s) are continuously working to make vegan food that appeals to more people.
Chad says, “You can eat a lot of the same foods, you just have to change the recipe”. With an ever increasing number of vegan alternatives to animal products, it has never been easier to eat plant-based. Nowadays you don’t have to give up your favorite foods to go vegan, you might just have to buy a different brand.
With the continued success of Eden Burger alongside his pal Sebastian, Chad decided to open his own vegan cafe (4th & State) in January of 2020. While Eden Burger is a vegan take on your traditional American fast food joint (think burgers, fries, fried ‘chicken’, and milkshakes), 4th & State is a casual cafe located in downtown Columbus. They serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch, with vegan versions of classic cuisine alongside some creative new concepts.
One of the things Chad wants to do at 4th & State is to host other vegan startups for pop-ups as a way to pay it forward. In addition to hosting external businesses for pop-ups, he also plans to use his restaurant to flush out ideas for more of his own vegan restaurant concepts. While interviewing Chad, I half-jokingly suggested that he wants to be the vegan Cameron Mitchell, starting up tons of successful vegan restaurant concepts going forward; and he said I wasn’t far off in saying that.
Opening 4th & State, he has been structuring everything carefully so that when growth happens, they aren’t stretching themselves too thin. He values his employees and strives to create a work environment where people want to work. Creating opportunities for growth and development for his employees is high on his priority list. It seems to be working since his first employee at Eden Burger was then his first employee at 4th & State!
In addition to wanting to positively impact the world by making veganism more accessible, Chad also wants to positively impact the local economy. At 4th & State, they source their ingredients from local farms, vendors, and businesses. All bread products used in the restaurant are from Lucky Cat Bakery, and they carry vegan donuts from Destination Donuts.
Typically, other vegan food businesses might be considered “competition”, but Chad doesn’t see it that way. To him, another vegan business’ win is also his win. They are on the same mission, to make delicious vegan food more accessible to the city. He loves supporting fellow plant-based restauranteurs and is excited at how far the Columbus vegan food scene has come in the past couple of years.
While he’s not busy running his businesses, Chad enjoys acting in both short films and local theatre. He does improv comedy, plays basketball, has fun making tiktoks, and has even spent some time in the soundcloud rapper space. Support this local entrepreneur by dining at 4th & State and Eden Burger, and showing some love on social media!