Brunch is back at Vergennes Laundry

By Jack Summersby

Riley Board
The menu at Vergennes Laundry is influenced heavily by the cultures of Montreal and France.

Vergennes Laundry, a gourmet bakery, coffee shop and restaurant, reopened its doors in January, with a new owner, atmosphere and a philosophy that centers community-building.

Nadia Dole, a chef and business owner, bought the business in September 2020 and moved to Vergennes. Dole also owns a film and photography school and, before the pandemic, hosted workshops in secluded locations across the world — including in Morocco and Italy — and cooked for its participants. 

Dole grew up in Montreal and credits the city’s foodie culture and her parents for her passion for cooking. “Both my parents cook, so they would fight who would cook dinner,” Dole said. “We had that kind of household.” 

The original Vergennes Laundry opened 10 years ago when Julianne Jones and Didier Murat repurposed a former laundromat at 247 Main St. in Vergennes. Dole said she has always loved the original establishment, and wrote several pieces and editorials about the restaurant when it was run by the original owners. 

Dole first became interested in buying the business back in 2018, but it was sold to another chef. The second owner put a new spin on the business, according to the restaurant’s website, but it was ultimately put on the market again. 

When the pandemic’s disruption of her traveling workshops coincided with a second opportunity to buy Vergennes Laundry, Dole knew she could not miss it.

The opening of the revitalized business — which occurred in January — was designed with pandemic restrictions in mind. The current menu is all takeout and includes wood-fired baked goods, espresso drinks and other snacks. 

Although the pandemic has limited the scope of the restaurant’s operations, Dole sees certain positives in the situation, including a more relaxed launching. “The plus side is that [Covid-19] has allowed a soft opening . . . We’ve been able to be slow and steady and work out all the wrinkles,” she said. 

Takeout was never a part of Dole’s original vision. “That’s probably been the most difficult thing. My food doesn’t translate well to takeout,” she said. 

Dole, who also owns a farm in Putney, Vt., says that her strength is in farm-to-table cooking. Her recipes often use vegetables as a foundation, and follow a minimalist, “less is more” perspective. Dole hopes to expand her offerings as soon as conditions allow. 

Because of its reduced capacity, Vergennes Laundry currently has three employees. “We’ve also had a very tight team, so we don’t have many employees. The team is incredible,” Dole said. However, this number is set to triple in the coming months in anticipation of expanded offerings.

In the long term, Dole looks forward to indoor seating and a larger menu. Outdoor seating and dinners are set to start in June. 

“We can’t wait for when it’s safe to take it inside and have that atmosphere that comes with people sitting at the tables and that chatter and the clinking of glasses and the people watching,” said Dole. 

Being an accessible place in the community is a big part of the appeal for Dole. Although not fully prepared, she opened the restaurant informally during the week of Christmas after realizing that many people were unable to travel to see family. 

“This community has been completely embracing and kind,” Dole said.