CNNGo totally scooped me on this, but it's still my duty to spread the gospel of Paul and Sara Bergman of The Freshary in Shanghai. I met Paul a little over 10 years ago in college. Typically, he would either be running to class or in the library, not preparing to take over the world, but to save it. Starting with food, I think he's on the right track. The Freshary sells certified organic baked goods and ice cream, and is the first to do so in China. Their first store is also the only LEED Gold certified retail and food production space in China.
I sampled a vegan chocolate muffin and some soy vanilla ice cream (after Paul donned a lab coat and fixed the machine). If I could live on these two things alone, being vegan wouldn't be a challenge in the least. The muffin, literally made from scratch (the flour is ground daily from seeds and wheat in house), had none of the shortcomings that typical vegan baked goods possess. And not being an ice cream person, their soy ice cream is actually something I could scream for (yes I'm ending a sentence with a preposition. Deal with it). Slightly savory, the vanilla soft serve is more comfort food than dessert (a very good thing), but it's not heavy at all. The Freshary also offers a black sesame-flavored ice cream, something that Paul spent 14 months perfecting. Clearly, Paul is as passionate about perfection as he is about people, which can be difficult in the Chinese market. "Paul is too nice," Sara says of her husband and partner. In what little time I spent there, I could see how being nice could negatively affect the business. "We really wanted to have a flat hierarchy in the office, but you just can't have that in China. It was disappointing to have to readjust the organizational structure, but it was necessary."
Even with the steep learning curve, Paul and Sara have continued to pursue their vision, and will soon be opening a second store. It's my hope that once they get the China operations off and running that they'll expand to the U.S. and move back, because they're both two of the nicest and coolest people you'll ever meet, and they're both sorely missed. Buen provecho.
If you find yoursefl in Shanghai, The Freshary is located in the SML Center at 618 Xujiahui Road, B2 Level, T-13. You can get there by Subway Line 9, Dapuqiao Road Stop, Exit 3.