by Corin Hirsch
Fifteen years after creating what would become a Burlington landmark, the owners of Penny Cluse Café will open an adjacent new spot called Lucky Next Door next Tuesday.
Named in part for the former owner of 163 Cherry Street — whom Penny Cluse co-owner Charles Reeves used to call “Heather next door” — and in part for a beloved dog, the sunny space has been transformed into a 25-seat café with terracotta walls, sleek pine counters and funky pendants from Conant Metal & Light that use "old canned lights we found when we were demolishing the ceiling," says Reeves. Those lights so closely resembled flying saucers that he and Holly Cluse commissioned Burlington artist Abby Manock to paint colorful UFOs around the place, including all over the bathroom walls.
The light menu, overseen by Penny Cluse chef Maura O’Sullivan, will include pressed sandwiches — including one loaded with slow-cooked LaPlatte beef, broccoli rabe and Blythedale Farm Cookeville Grana — as well as salads and quesadillas. The garlicky kale quesadilla with quesa fresca popular at Penny Cluse will migrate over here, too, and the kitchen will dish out a salad of chopped greens and garlicky croutons tossed in an avocado-lime dressing — topped with arctic char, as you wish.
Penny Cluse's banana bread will make an appearance, as will biscotti and a few other pastries that pair with a range of espresso drinks and a special coffee blend created for the café by Speeder & Earl's. Imbibers can go for a beer from Switchback or Zero Gravity, some draft Citizen Cider, or choose from a roster of wines from the glass.
Reeves says one of their aims for the new café is to capture some of the overflow from Penny Cluse; another is to offer evening hours. “We want it to be a great place to meet a friend for a glass of wine after work,” he says.
Though the café will initially launch with a truncated menu and hours, it will eventually be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.