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Vegan yoga cafe planning West Side opening

A Portugese furniture designer is opening a vegan yoga café on the Lower West Side near D’Youville College.

Pedro Manuel Freire had been operating Manuel Barreto Furniture, a contemporary furniture showroom and art gallery, on Delaware Avenue until earlier this year.

Now he’s working on the interior of 388 Porter Ave., which was last Buffalo Rome. Freire was a regular customer of Buffalo Rome, and knew its proprietor, the late Victor Mirando, he said.

Friere’s place will be called VilaVerde Café, serving up coffee, sandwiches, salads, and small plates with a Mediterranean bent. Friere's plan is to serve as a cafe over the winter and start offering yoga classes in early 2019.

“Our plan is to make it slightly bigger next spring,” Friere said of the 20-seat space. “Expand it to the back, open it to the outside, for a more European lifestyle, café life.”

The draft menu includes toast with avocado, hummus or ricotta ($3.50-$4.50). Panini ($6.50-$7.50) are offered with vegan pepperjack and bacon, vegan mozzarella and tomato, and three vegan cheeses.

Lunch specials ($11-$12) would include dishes like vegan meatballs, a smoked tofu banh mi sandwich, and smoked jackfruit with vegan gouda cheese and olives. There’s also coffee, breakfast pastries, salads, and soup, like a vegan caldo verde.

The concept is akin to an art and design café with plant-based food, with a yoga studio attached, he said.

The interior of the space at 388 Porter Ave. is being refinished. (VilaVerde Cafe)

“We don’t have space to do the yoga classes inside, but we have a nice outdoor area,” he said. “Next spring, after we expand the back patio area, we want to give free classes to the neighborhood, outside.”

“Hopefully we can put up some shelter on the deck,” Friere said, “so we can do classes outside if it rains.”

He hopes to open by the end of October. Tentative opening hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

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