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VPR Cafe: Chain Restaurants The Vermont Way

Glenn Russell
Burlington Free Press
Parkside Kitchen, in Richmond, is an offshoot of The Kitchen Table Bistro. In recent years, many Vermont restaurants have opened up multiple spaces in the area.

Restaurant chains are often associated with thoughts of manufactured, unhealthy and sometimes unappetizing food. However, several local businesses in Vermont are starting to change that. 

Many Vermont restaurants, including the Farmhouse Group, Juniors, Misery Loves Company, Bluebird and more have embraced the idea of creating multiple outlets or chains in the area.

Sally Pollak, writer for the Savorvore Section of the Burlington Free Press, says it’s very much in the European tradition.

Credit Kevin Hurley / Burlington Free Press
Burlington Free Press
Dylan Campbell prepares the first dish of the night at Bluebird Tavern. Bluebird has four restaurants in northern Vermont.

Pollak spoke with an executive chef and administrator at the New England Culinary Institute. He explained to her that many of the best three star restaurants in Europe open smaller, satellite restaurants to capitalize on a brand, reward staff with higher positions in the new ventures, as well as gain leverage with banks and investors.

Pollak talked to several local business owners who are branching out in Vermont. “An example is Misery Loves Company in Winooski," Pollack says. "Their baker needed more space, so it began as sort of a functional imperative … and now, they have a space to make desserts and breads for both restaurants." The owner of Misery Loves Company also explained the personal need as an entrepreneur and restaurateur to always be seeking out new opportunities. Pollak saw the same theme with several other restaurant owners in the area.

"I was all set to drive to Richmond at 10:30 in the morning and eat oatmeal. Then I saw a $7 cheeseburger and just decided I was in the mood for a cheeseburger." - Sally Pollack, food writer

Pollack made a visit to a new chain venture, the Parkside Kitchen in Richmond, an offshoot of The Kitchen Table Bistro. “I like to look at menus online to dream about my meal, so I was all set to drive to Richmond at 10:30 in the morning and eat oatmeal. Then I saw a $7 cheeseburger and just decided I was in the mood for a cheeseburger. So I told the counter man I was trying to decide between oatmeal and a cheeseburger, and the guy told me that it was a very common dilemma. I went with the burger.”

The VPR Café is produced in collaboration with The Burlington Free Press.

Broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.

Franny was VPR's Director of Programming & Production.
Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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