In late 2018, Allison Rounding and Holly Atkinson launched Fierce Friends, a vegan food business in Acton that seemed to be destined to come to Guelph.
The two met in George Brown College’s chef school over 20 years ago and had dreams of starting a restaurant one day. With Atkinson’s experience travelling and cooking around the world and Rounding’s experience in business management, the two decided to launch their own cafe in Acton.
Rounding and Atkinson had been vegan for most of their lives and to them, it only made sense to launch a store that served accessible vegan food with whole local ingredients.
While Fierce Friends did well in Acton, it was hit hard by the pandemic. If it wasn’t for the Guelph community’s support, Rounding said the store wouldn’t have survived. And so it moved to Guelph this summer as an online business.
“We had regulars coming from Guelph when we were in Acton as a cafe. As soon as we shut down, we decided we had to go to them so we started offering deliveries within Guelph and then that gave us the ability to just expand so we started to just do deliveries in Acton, Rockwood, Georgetown and Guelph,” said Rounding.
“Now we're as far as we can reach so without them, I don't know if we would be here right now.”
The two owners and chefs cook various vegan meals. Burritos, a salad with roast peach, a pumpkin apple and pecan stuffing, moussaka, empanadas, grilled cheese and a poutine are some of the examples.
“It's really nice to be really close to the community that helped keep us open,” said Rounding.
“COVID was really hard and a lot of our supporters — once we started offering delivery — really made an impact on us and we just wanted to be closer to everyone that supports us so we can just get into more of our charitable acts and that kind of stuff.”
Fierce Friends is involved in a number of community initiatives such as providing vegan meals for the Hope House food insecurity program, advocating for 2SLGBTQI+ communities in Guelph and finding homes for rescued animals at GLO Farm Sanctuary and Karuna Lane Sanctuary and Farm Stay.
Now the two owners are catering while they look for commercial spaces to officially open a storefront for customers. They also offer specialty catering, weekly mailboxes and regular market menus through their website.
“They can select which delivery date they want, or which delivery Saturday they'd like and then they just order whatever they want, and every Saturday it gets delivered anywhere from Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, Toronto, Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton,” said Rounding.
Rounding, originally from Mississauga and Atkinson from Guelph, now live in Guelph.
“We used to be called The Plant Society Kitchen and it was fitting for the time and what we were, what we were about, now things have changed a little bit we have decided to embrace our personalities more when representing the company,” said Rounding.
“We feel very fiercely about our feelings about animals and all that. We're allies and in a lot of ways, inclusive. We love the drag community.”
Rounding said the business mostly uses local food sources such as Flour Barrel and a produce shop in Downtown Guelph. It also grows much of its own produce.
Rounding said Fierce Friends will be offering pickup soon with Uber Eats. Their food is prepared at 281 Woodlawn Rd. and currently, the only way to order is through their website.
“Everyone that we talked to is just pumped that we're here. There are so many vegan options involved, but we're just happy to be just another one, and one that is affordable and accessible to everyone,” said Rounding.