Four years have passed since a fire at Hinesburg’s Saputo Cheese Plant forced its closure — but, as new businesses rise from its ashes, nearby food lovers can rejoice.
In a high-profile renovation last spring, the Route 116 site gained two new tenants, Green Mountain Organic Creamery and Vermont Smoke and Cure. Now it will host Hinesburg’s new community-supported eatery: Hinesburg Public House.
Not long ago, Will and Kathleen Patten were sitting in Bristol’s Bobcat Café & brewery “watching neighbors talk to neighbors,” Will Patten recalls, when inspiration struck. “We said to each other, ‘You know what? Hinesburg needs a place like this.’”
So they hatched a plan to put up the bulk of the $100,000 cash needed to renovate a 4000-square-foot space at the factory into a casual eatery focused on “hearty, healthy, made-from-scratch and locally sourced Vermont food.”
To cover the remainder of their operating costs — about $50,000 — the couple is selling $500 shares, which will score investors $510 in gift cards for use over the restaurant’s first six months. “So far, we’re halfway there,” says Patten, who is confident the restaurant will open by Columbus Day.
The Pattens have hired a chef and managing partner, Thom Dodge, who spent nine years in charge of the Grill at Smuggler’s Cove Inn in East Boothbay, Maine. Though Patten is mum on the menu, he hints that seasonal ingredients, such as “pumpkin, squash and venison,” will be plated during the fall opening, and most of the food will be local. “We’re building the tax base, bringing back jobs and bringing back a relationship with the working landscape,” says Patten, who is already building relationships with farmers.
The Pattens are no strangers to hospitality: They ran and sold two Rutland restaurants before Will Patten went to work at Ben & Jerry’s. He retired from his job as director of retail operations there in 2007.
True to its name, Hinesburg Public House will have a full bar, and the interior will “be comfortable,” with rocking chairs and overstuffed armchairs mingling with booths and tables, Patten says. He expects to limit weekday service to dinner, with lunch added on weekends.
To purchase a share, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.