Born out of love and sustainability, Ely’s To Go in Poland, Ohio is a vegan restaurant that is designed to be environmentally friendly at its core, all while offering folks a delicious mix of plant-based foods. Chef Panayiota Italiano and her husband became owners of the restaurant just a few years ago, and have continued the sustainable business practices established by the original owners ever since. When describing her business, Italiano believes that there are many layers to what her and her team do.

“Ely On is a Vietnamese woman who started this business 12 years ago,” says Italiano. “In the outermost layer, it’s a vegan restaurant that started out of love and sustainability. It started next door in The Bread Chef, and it was just a peace-offering of food and what she believed in, and she’s created something that’s just a huge establishment of providing that love to the Youngstown people. That’s just the outside layer of it. As you peel the layers back it becomes a lot more than that. It’s a collective of people who believe in sustainability, and putting their heart and soul into everything they are creating here.”

When you visit Ely’s, you can expect to never have the same experience twice. The restaurant’s business model is designed for the menu to change every day. Italiano believes that doing so allows her and her team to better support local farmers, generate less waste, and achieve the sustainable goals that they have set for the restaurant. 

While their business model certainly stands out, so too does the food they offer. The food may be classified as vegan, but Italiano and her team of chefs bring unique cooking techniques and personalities to the table in order to create something healthy and delicious. They are also able to attract individuals who are not necessarily vegan, which is part of what makes Italiano’s job so special.

“I would say most of the people that come are not plant-based, or have an interest in doing that, but maybe they’re choosing plants that day and that means the world to us,” said Italiano.

The team of chef’s at Ely’s is what gives them the ability to not only attract non-vegan customers, but create delicious foods that consumers of all demographics can enjoy. Each chef adds their personality and flair to each item they cook, creating another layer to the Ely’s experience.

Ely’s is an inclusive space, and has something for everyone, whether you are vegan or not. In fact, that is what Italiano would most like for people to know about her restaurant.

“I would want people to not feel intimidated to come here,” said Italiano, when asked what she would like the community to know most about Ely’s. “A lot of people come in and they’re a little afraid because they don’t eat plant-based normally. I would want everybody to feel welcome to come, because there’s something for everybody, and I feel like we’re a little bit more than the food here.”

Ely’s To Go is a vegan-style restaurant on the surface, but has so much to offer beyond delicious plant-based food. There are many layers to what makes Ely’s a special place to enjoy a meal. To make your Ely’s experience complete, you’ll just have to enjoy every layer for yourself!