Today we’d like to introduce you to Mimi Loureiro.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Mimi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We have a yoga studio in Somerville called O2 Yoga which was established in 2001. There has been so much community built there over the years, but the space never allowed for people to linger after class. I was on the hunt for a larger space that would allow more options and uses and boy, did we ever find it in our space in Cambridge. I knew that I wanted a cafe at the entrance of the yoga studio. I had been vegan for 4 years at that point and my sons and husband had gone vegan as well. Vegan food is very consistent with yogic diet and lifestyle but it was more than that for me. I believe that food is love. I wanted a space for our students to connect after class, I wanted a space to showcase what vegan food can really be, I wanted the space to feel like home, I wanted people to be able to find community, love, friendship, respect, and connections. At the time, I knew very little about running a cafe so thought it would make the most sense subletting the front of our space out to someone who “knew what they were doing”. I had been a waitress, bartender, and home cook. I knew little about running a restaurant. My husband and I and our kids interviewed and worked with a few groups of people, but, at the end of the day, their vision wasn’t ours. I sat down with my husband, Steven, and he said, “You should just do it yourself. Do what you know. You will figure it out.” And we did! At first, we started with just coffee, smoothies and pastries made off site.
But soon, I was adding a sandwich, and then some soup, and then a breakfast item. Within a few months we had a full menu with my own recipes.
A few months after we opened, my son was diagnosed with cancer, which obviously, stopped us in our tracks. Somehow, miraculously the business kept running with the help of very dedicated staff and customers. 3 years later, we are hopefully on the other end of it. Vo2 has continued to grow! My whole family is vegan. We all believe in the power of love, of comfort food, of taking care of everyone who walks into our “home”. We want to prove that vegan food can be better than good. It can be great. We want to change the world one delicious homemade soup, sandwich, muffin, cupcake, smoothie, burrito at a time. We have fought many battles and this one is no different. It is worth the fight! I always say, it is not easy nor cheap to do the right thing but I, no we, couldn’t do it any other way.
We are proud to be the only exclusively vegan restaurant in Cambridge but will happily give up that title if it means more awesome, courageous business owners choose to go this route.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Well, like I said before if you give a shit, it is going to cost you but it is worth it. I believe in buying organic whenever I can, to make as much as possible in-house, to treat my employees with respect, to be consistent with our values from the front to the back of the house. Being a family business, in Cambridge, with limited means (especially after prioritizing my family for the past three years) has been very difficult. We, honestly, are lucky to still be open. But, we are in this for the long run. We want to prove that you can run a socially, ethically, environmentally, and in every way responsible business and succeed!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about VO2 VEGAN CAFE – what should we know?
We are known for our vegan comfort food. Again, we are the only exclusively vegan restaurant in Cambridge. I wanted to provide food that anyone would love, not just vegans. In fact, we specialize in, what I like to call, “carnivore-tested food”. I want our food to be great, delicious, and most importantly, comfort food. Vegan food is often considered to be either tasteless, bland, or “hippy food”. We are known for creating food that is just gosh-darn delicious and reminiscent of childhood favorites like our Chuna, New England Clam Chowder, and Mama Mia (our take on a classic meatball sub).
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Really, I can only choose one???
Okay, um, Love
- Address: VO2 Vegan Cafe
1001 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Ma 02138
- Website: vo2vegancafe.com
- Phone: 6174922233
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Vo2 Vegan Cafe
- Facebook: Vo2 Vegan Cafe
- Twitter: Vo2 Vegan Cafe
- Yelp: Vo2 Vegan Cafe