VO2 Vegan Cafe has always been a family business. Mimi Loureiro was the driving force behind the Mass Ave. wellness center—made up of the cafe, O2 Yoga, and massage space—while her husband, Steven Carpenter, led its buildout. Their sons, Dylan and Deven Carpenter, worked in the cafe, and Deven, 15, helps Loureiro test recipes.
Dylan passed away in August after years of battling cancer. This blow to the family made them unsure whether they could continue on with their Cambridge location, Loureiro says, and then a large rent increase that would take effect May 1 sealed the deal. The Cambridge O2 Yoga studio will close at the end of the month (the Somerville location will remain open), and the brick-and-mortar VO2 will shut down.
But Loureiro hopes to keep their family business going in another form: a food truck that could serve Cambridge and Somerville, alongside a commercial kitchen in their Rye, N.H. home to support catering and bulk orders.
“We want to continue to be a force for change in the world of plant-based eating, and our goal has always been comfort food—things that people recognize, that makes people feel loved and taken care of—and then the additional benefit is the vegan part,” she says. “We’re pretty damn good at it, and we’ve been very, very successful in Cambridge, and I’m really, really proud of that fact. And I feel like I want to keep that going, and keep the people who have supported us involved.”
The family has launched a GoFundMe, which is primarily focused on the food truck that would allow them to keep serving Cambridge. Despite living out of state, the family had a small apartment in Cambridge, and have come to think of the city as a second home, Loureiro explains.
“I don’t want to lose my connection with Cambridge, we’ve built a lot of relationships there,” she says. “My goal is to stay in the Somerville/Cambridge area on some level, because that’s part of our family, and we want to keep that an important spot for us.”