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A new vegan restaurant is going to be opening their doors soon in Brattleboro.

BRATTLEBORO — The owners of a new vegan restaurant coming to Canal Street are fielding questions from an excited group of soon-to-be customers.

“We are chugging along, and we are probably more excited than they are to open,” said Nikki Peruzzi, co-owner of Vegan A.F.

Co-owner Eva Gwinn said she and Peruzzi “just want to do it right.”

“We’re excited to feed all the friends we know,” Gwinn said. “It’s a big deal. We’ve heard it, we feel the pressure, and we are really ready to step up to do it.”

Gwinn and Peruzzi hope to open Vegan A.F. by the end of the month. They closed on the building at 105 Canal St., which formerly housed Three Stones, in May.


Gwinn said she and Peruzzi were planning to open a restaurant and decided that it would be vegan, because it’s needed here.

“I feel like Brattleboro has always been kind of a food destination," Gwinn said. “We decided this would be the clutch move for Brattleboro.”

The Common Ground Restaurant, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Brattleboro, closed in 2007 after more than 30 years of service. That was one of the first places Gwinn ate vegan.

Superfresh! Organic Cafe, a vegan restaurant, has been in Brattleboro since 2012. 

Gwinn said she and Peruzzi love the challenge of making the new restaurant strictly vegan, because their experience in the food industry runs the gamut. Having met working jobs in local restaurants, they now consider themselves BFFs (best friends forever) and ski buddies.

“We’ve both been back-of-the-house dogs for the most part and have definitely come and settled to the front of the house,” Gwinn said.

Since her mother owned the Canal Street building when it was the Green Mountain Mama restaurant in the early 2000s, Gwinn already has experience cooking there.

Peruzzi left the restaurant industry about three years ago. But last summer, something special happened when she was invited to participate as a guest chef in an annual Farm to Table Dinner fundraiser at the Boyd Family Farm in Wilmington, an event she had done earlier.

When Peruzzi and Gwinn arrived, event organizer Janet Boyd stuffed a piece of paper into Peruzzi’s hand.

“She says, ‘This is supposed to be yours,’” Peruzzi said, referring to a listing for the Canal Street property. “This one [Gwinn] leans over my shoulder and says, ‘You know, my mom used to own that place, right? Can we buy it?’ And I’m like, ‘Everybody slow down.’”

Gwinn won a battle against cancer and her brother died about a year ago. Her brother always told her the family would get the restaurant again, and the day of the fundraiser happened to be the anniversary of her mother’s death.

“I was like, All right, fine,” Peruzzi said. “If this isn’t the universe, saying, ‘This is what you two are supposed to do,’ I really don’t know. Like, she was like slapping us around saying, ‘Hello, yeah, you guys should have this restaurant.’”

Peruzzi and Gwinn spent another two months trying to talk each other out of the project. But, between COVID-19 and the costs associated with starting up a restaurant, they still felt up to the challenge.

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Gwinn called the space “a small venue” but “nice, cozy and comfortable.”

“We can do it very well,” she said. “We’re not extending ourselves.”

Instead of feeding 250 people each day like they did at previous jobs, they expect the number to be closer to about 60 at Vegan A.F. They plan on hiring several staff members, with starting pay at $15 regardless of position, and tip sharing throughout the restaurant.

To help, Peruzzi said they received a grant from the state of Vermont.

“One of the reasons that I pitched it and asked for it was because we’ve worked in this industry for a while, and we see a lot of problems with the service industry, and I think it’s starting to show right now, especially after COVID, where no restaurants can find any staff because honestly, the staff is like, ‘It’s not worth it,’” she said. “We’re going to try and change the face of the service industry in Vermont one tiny vegan dish at a time.”

By having familiar dishes, Gwinn said the menu is meant to be “inclusive.” It includes buffalo cauliflower wings, tacos, jambalaya, burgers, salads and more.

“You don’t have to be vegan to come in here and be like, ‘Wow, that was a really great meal,’” Peruzzi said.

Gwinn noted, “We’re all a little vegan. Everybody eats vegetables.”

“It’s a little bit of change, and it’s healthy,” she said. “It’s good for you. We’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re just trying to invite people to try something different.”

Peruzzi said she and Gwinn will try to source as much as they can locally. She envisions them wandering around the local farmers’ market picking up items for specials.

Gwinn anticipates the restaurant will try to use as few meat alternatives as possible. She called some of the products “terrible for you.”

Peruzzi is considering putting up a sign out front that says, “Leave your meat at the door.” She and Gwinn promise there won’t be any animal byproducts in the building.

The plan is to open in phases, so quality is never in jeopardy. First up is lunch and dinner offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. with an emphasis on daily specials. Next is Sunday brunch, followed by online ordering for takeout, possibly even via eventually. Last is catering and potentially private functions at the restaurant.

Renovations, including new flooring and color schemes, were part of the project aimed at changing up the aesthetic. Peruzzi said one of the biggest hurdles involves taking over a space as beloved as Three Stones.

“The business didn’t go out of business. We didn’t buy them out,” Peruzzi said. “We didn’t steal the space. They were ready to be done.”

Mucuy Bolles said she and Christian Mackay are “really happy” the building they owned and ran Three Stones in is going to “new owners with such fresh energy.”

Gwinn, who lives in the Canal Street neighborhood, hopes to revitalize that area of town.

Gwinn and Peruzzi aren’t vegans. They consider themselves “plant forward,” or actively trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets.

As for what the A.F. in the restaurant’s name stands for, they said you have to ask them yourself. Their business can be found at, and on Facebook and Instagram.

This article was updated to include information about Superfresh! Organic Cafe.