File Oliver Parini ©️ Seven Days
Scale Poké Bar owners Perry and Neil Farr
Neil and Perry Farr opened Scale Poké Bar
in Williston in March of 2018. Fewer than three years later, in the middle of a pandemic, they are opening a second location in Essex Junction at 137 Pearl Street.
The experienced industry professionals, who met while students at the Culinary Institute of America, identified Hawaiian-style bowls of seasoned, sliced raw fish called poké (pronounced like "okay") as an untapped restaurant opportunity in the Burlington area.
Apparently, they were on to something.
Vermonters fell hook, line and sinker for offerings like the firecracker bowl of wild salmon (caught in Alaska by Vermonter Lynn Steyaart of Honeywilya Fish
), ahi tuna, or hamachi served over a choice of white or brown rice, zucchini noodles or greens. The bowl is festooned with cucumber, mango, scallions, sesame seeds, crispy onions, seaweed seasoning and the Scale's own firecracker sauce.
Scale also offers açaí bowls centered on a sorbet made from the trendy South American berry with additions such as Vermont-made granola, fresh fruit, raw honey and almond butter.
The restaurant's line of poké sauces is available by the bottle from the restaurant and at City Market/Onion River Co-op
's South End store. During winter and spring, the Scale menu also includes ramen noodle soups, with expanded options this year.
While many restaurants have been sorely tested by the pandemic, some that specialize in takeout have been quietly riding a steady wave of business. Neil Farr said that Scale was well positioned to go 100 percent takeout since the restaurant already had solid systems in place. Customer demand has even justified adding hours, he said.
The Farrs are planning a soft opening for their Essex Jct. location within the next 10 days. The new Scale Poké Bar shares a building with the Pearl Street Pub, and will occupy the space that briefly housed the Middle Eastern restaurant Mr. Shawarma in 2018. The Farrs gutted the existing restaurant to create a large, commissary kitchen that will provide prep space and specialized equipment like ramen noodle cookers to serve both locations, Neil Farr said.
They also built a 600-square-foot patio in front for future outdoor eating.
For now, both locations will be takeout-only, but the Farrs are working on getting their own delivery service up and running. Looking forward to 2021, the couple is working on adding another pair of locations in Waterbury and Montpelier.