by Corin Hirsch
Local crêperie the Skinny Pancake will expand to the Burlington International Airport by this winter, according to a source at the airport and an article written by co-owner Benjy Adler in a local magazine.
The eateries, slated to open in mid-December, will include a Chubby Muffin kiosk across from the check-in counters and a full-service Skinny Pancake café in each of the two concourses, says Ryan Betcher, who handles marketing, leases and contracts for the airport.
Skinny Pancake owners Benjy and Jonny Adler began their business with a mobile cart in 2003. Their mini-chain has grown to include two restaurants — one each in Burlington and Montpelier — and a café in the Old North End, the Chubby Muffin.
The contract for BTV's current concessions operator, One Flight Up, expired earlier this year, and the airport put out a request for bids for the winter of 2012. The Skinny Pancake landed the contract because "of the amount of infrastructure they'll be putting in. It's a significant investment," says Betcher. "Also, there was a need for more quality and local foods. At least 50 percent of [the Skinny Pancake's] food is sourced directly from Vermont. It's something completely different than what a lot of airports offer."
One Flight Up has been at the airport for 20 years, added Betcher, and the fate of its remaining airport restaurant is uncertain.
Though Benjy Adler had told Seven Days that it was too early to talk about the project, he writes about it in detail in the Fall 2012 issue of Local Banquet, a food- and ag-focused quarterly published in Saxtons River. Adler writes that each Skinny Pancake at the airport will offer snacks and sandwiches as well as the eatery's signature crêpes, along with coffee drinks and local wine, beer and spirits. The walls will display pictures of local farmers and "a map of the local foodshed."
Adler adds that this will be "likely the first-ever local-foods restaurant in an American airport." Actually, local foods have been popping up over the past decade at major airports, including in Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and Tampa. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has its own vegetable garden, and at San Francisco International, local brands make up 85 percent of food offerings.
It's apropos that the cozy Burlington airport — in the epicenter of a state that identifies so closely with locavorism — is joining the pack. With Brie-and-apple-filled crêpes and free Wi-Fi on hand, travelers might not mind the occasional delay.
Photo of the Skinny Pancake by Matthew Thorsen.