| Ryan Feyre
FLORENCE – Wild Chestnut Café, a new vegan space, just recently opened on Jan. 8 at 22 Chestnut St.
Co-owned by Amherst resident Rosalie Black and Granby resident Myssie Lacharite, Wild Chestnut Café is a restaurant that offers vegan comfort food, like baked goods and hot drinks. The grand opening menu includes lattes, an espresso drink, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, mango and strawberry smoothies, as well as soups and salads. The baked goods on the menu include cinnamon buns, lemon poppyseed muffins, molasses cookies, chocolate cupcakes, blueberry oat bars and peanut butter bombs. Black also added that the restaurant hopes to expand their menu to sandwiches and other vegan items.
“We were brought together by our love of food and our love of animals,” said Black, regarding how each owner met. “We’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant.”
Before opening Wild Chestnut Café, Lacharite used to work at Café Evolution, which was the prior vegan restaurant and bakery known for their own award-winning vegan baked goods, including cupcakes, scones, bars, cookies, and Star’s Sunflower Oat Bread, as well as other daily specials. Black, meanwhile used to work at Pulse Café, a plant-based restaurant in Hadley. Café Evolution closed for some personal reasons. Both officially met each other while doing vegan activism in Northampton.
“We were just really motivated to continue what they started … which is really just to create a really vibrant community here in Florence” said Black, referring to Evolution’s vegan-based offerings and how they operated. “We just decided to take the leap, and it’s been a wild ride.”
Lacharite carries 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, while Black studied marketing and public relations in college, so both owners bring a large breadth of experience to the business. “We both bring different things to the table, and different elements that have really helped us,” said Black. “We have had a lot of help from previous owners and just friends in the business that have really guided and helped us.”
Originally, the café was going to open for dine-in, but due to COVID-19, the business is going to stick with curbside and to-go orders for the time being. They are hoping to add indoor dining and online ordering soon, though.
“We did just get our entertainment license for the year, as well, so once things start to open up again, we definitely want to be able to start hosting things here and integrate a lot of music and other things, as well,” said Lacharite.
The main goal for Wild Chestnut, according to the two owners, is to create a safe and welcoming space for all who visit. “Not only is it going to be a really healthy option for the area, but it’s also going to be in an entire space that’s [animal] cruelty free. Our little slogan is, ‘a Vegan Space Fueled by Compassion’…so we’re kind of looking at this for the long term.”
The café will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be closed Monday and Tuesday for the time being. To learn more about the business and their menu, visit https://www.wildchestnutcafe.com.