The concept was simple, albeit one with a decidedly modern-day, Left Coast twist: create a restaurant that serves the kind of clean, delicious and sustainably-sourced fare that keeps people coming back, day after day. This was the idea behind Seed + Salt, Mo Clancy’s vegan-friendly San Francisco eatery, now in its second year.
The restaurant’s renown has grown in tandem with the general public’s embrace of what were once considered alternative foodie lifestyles: veganism, Paleo, gluten-free. Mo acknowledges that some customers are surprised by how much they like Seed + Salt’s menu, which features items like a BLT made with eggplant bacon, coconut meat “ceviche” and a breakfast sandwich comprised of a chickpea frittata with walnut chorizo and cashew “cheddar” cheese.
Mo relates the story of one man who recently told her that though he’s not a vegan, he loves her restaurant and her food—enough to come in every day. “To me, that’s just what we’re really trying to do,” Mo says. “Make really good food that’s in alignment with the values that people are shifting toward.”
A serial entrepreneur who often traveled back and forth between New York and LA for work, Mo wasn’t at a loss for menu options in either metropolis. Still, no single restaurant checked off all of her boxes. In search of organic, chef-driven cuisine made from food grown by local farmers and free of gluten, refined sugar and GMOs, Mo sensed, quite rightly, that she wasn’t alone in her wants.
The idea to open a restaurant, however, was met with its share of detractors, a number of them in the industry themselves. “Everyone told me I was crazy for what I was doing,” Mo recalls. “First of all, it was new. People didn’t understand what it was. And, also, the restaurant business is a really hard business. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career.”
Though she lacked a formal culinary background, Mo was, perhaps, the perfect person to open a space like Seed + Salt. Staying abreast of, and in many cases, presaging, trends has long underpinned her personal and professional endeavors.
In the late ’90s, she started as an urban networker at Levi’s, clueing the company in to what was happening in key city markets. That led to co-founding Ammo Marketing, the country’s first word-of-mouth, influencer marketing company—one that launched a good 15 years before “influencers” were a thing.
Mo would later go on to co-found Thread (now Hatch Beauty), a company specializing in branding, manufacturing and product development for beauty industry clients. Then, in 2008, tired of the “mass-ification” of fashion and compelled to create something truly unique, Mo founded Nomade Exquis, a line that began as a handmade, artisanal collection of clothing and accessories that launched in collaboration with designer Raquel Allegra.