Vicuna Chocolate under new ownership

  • Pierre Fabre and his son Matias are the new owners of Vicuna Chocolate in Peterborough having purchased the business in November. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Pierre Fabre and his son Matias are the new owners of Vicuna Chocolate in Peterborough having purchased the business in November. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Pierre Fabre and his son Matias are the new owners of Vicuna Chocolate in Peterborough having purchased the business in November. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Pierre Fabre and his son Matias are the new owners of Vicuna Chocolate in Peterborough having purchased the business in November. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Pierre Fabre and his son Matias are the new owners of Vicuna Chocolate in Peterborough having purchased the business in November. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Vicuna Chocolate was recently sold to Pierre Fabre of Bennington. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/24/2019 10:34:15 PM

Fans of Vicuna Chocolate’s bean-to-bar offerings can expect to see some subtle changes to the Peterborough business.

After the sale of the Main Street chocolate making operation last month to Pierre Fabre of Bennington, the new owner has a long-term plan for Vicuna, but there’s no intention of making whole sale alterations to what has been a successful endeavor since opening its doors in 2014.

It was the vision of Neely Cohen that brought the traditional method of chocolate production to Peterborough before Nate Morison and Casey Goodrich, a pair of 17-year-old entrepreneurs, took over the operation in 2017.

Now it’s up to Fabre to carry the business into the future. But he won’t be doing it alone. The reason Fabre was looking to become a small business owner was in order to obtain a visa that would allow him to live legally in the U.S. A native of Mexico, Fabre relocated to Bennington a year ago to remain living near his 8-year-old son Matias.

Fabre said that Matias will be involved in many aspects of the operation since he was the reason for purchasing the Peterborough location.

“I want to get him involved,” Fabre said. “We want to make it that he has a voice here.”

And Fabre is fortunate to have Cat Wilder remain on staff, as she has worked at Vicuna for four years and all three ownership groups. As the chocolate maker/cafe manager, Wilder is in charge of producing all of Vicuna’s chocolate, which is sold at the Main Street storefront, online and through wholesale.

“It’s invaluable,” Fabre said of Wilder remaining with the business. “For me it’s very important and she needs to be part of the transformation, part of the ideas.”

Currently, Vicuna purchases beans from three countries of origin – Bolivia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. It takes about two weeks to go from beans to bar. It’s an intricate process that Wilder first learned from Cohen and then took over under Morison and Goodrich.

Each country’s beans tastes different due to where it’s grown, which is why they are processed and packaged individually to retain the natural flavors of the 70 percent dark chocolate.

For Fabre, owning a chocolate making business is about as far removed from his occupation in his native Mexico, where he worked for 20 years as an architect. But with different certification requirements in the U.S. that would have meant additional schooling, Fabre opted to pursue small business ownership. Although he believes there are some similarities.

“Part of architecture is to bring ideas to the table and see what works in a creative process,” Fabre said.

He connected with the Small Business Development Center in Keene and was working on a project to open a donut shop in Keene. Fabre took classes at King Arthur Flour in Vermont centered around how to start a successful bakery. His idea was to open something in a city atmosphere as opposed to a small town, but the opportunity to buy an established business like Vicuna was too hard to pass up.

To start, Fabre doesn’t want to make significant changes, but he has a lot of ideas for the future. He’d like to develop a new line of packaging and after getting comfortable with how the operation is run, Fabre wants to take a closer look at how they can make chocolate in the most sustainable way.

“There’s a lot of things we can do with this place,” Fabre said. “But first is to figure out what the customers like because the community is important.”

In addition to chocolate bars, Vicuna offers cookies and brownies, sipping chocolate, dairy free hot chocolate and coffee from Flight Coffee in Dover.

Vicuna is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

For more, visit www.vicunachocolate.com.


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