Backtalk | Back Talk | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published May 29, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

LEFTOVERS:Mona’S did a brisk business over graduation weekend. Two days later the kitchen closed — for good. Employees arrived at the Burlington restaurant Tuesday morning to find the landlord had changed the locks and seized the property. “Was I late on the rent? You bet. How long? Twenty days,” says Burlington restaurateur Manon O’Connor, who says she was witholding payment to protest the terms of her lease, which included “common area fees” she believed were too high. “We built the restaurant based on promised development,” says O’Connor, noting the 5500-square-foot eatery was designed to serve growing numbers of people at nearby Union Station and the Burlington Waterfront. She asked Melinda Moulton for a rent adjustment based on a reassessment of the restaurant’s fair-market value. “I thought Main Street Landing would owe me money,” says O’Connor. “Now I need to auction off all of my assets… She’s slapped a lock on the door. I’m dead in the water.” Moulton is unapologetic. “We bent over backwards to make it work for her. You can blame all you want, but when you refuse to sign a lease and you won’t pay rent, it’s time to move on with your life.” O’Connor says she has been looking to sell her restaurant for about six months. She came close with two prospects, both of whom walked away on account of the high rent, according to O’Connor. One of them was Peter White, formerly of The Waiting Room — the only lounge-restaurant in Burlington that serves French fries with a black truffle vinaigrette. White recently sold his interest to majority partner Anna Rosenblum, who has given up a teaching job to be at the restaurant full-time. Other “subtle changes” at The Waiting Room include lower dinner prices and more “share food” courtesy of New England Culinary-trained Matt Birong, who has replaced the original chef. It used to be only two entrées were less than 20 dollars. Now only two are over. Also, you don’t have to stay up half the night to hear the live jazz. Starting this weekend, the music starts at six on Fridays and Sundays.

dutch treat: The name Gerritt Golner may not have the same ring as Rembrandt van Rijn, but the University of Vermont grad is sharing a bill with the Old Master this summer in Amsterdam. In the process of arranging artwork for an upcoming print show, Fleming Museum curator Janie Cohen intervened on Golner’s behalf at the Rembrandt House Museum. “They are interested in contemporary printmakers whose work in some way responds to Rembrandt’s processes,” Cohen explains. “I told them I knew a young artist…” At Cohen’s urging, Austrian-born Golner took a train from Germany to show the curators an etching — in 28 stages — that took her two years to create. “They loved it,” Cohen claims. “They are going to exhibit all 28 this summer — with Rembrandt.” Too bad he can’t make the opening…

hot air? Nothing livens up a party like a discussion of Vermont Public Radio commentators. Otherwise civilized listeners erupt in opinionated vitriol when the conversation turns to the conservative politics of Libby Sternberg or the Ranger Rick-style musings of naturalist Will Curtis. Something about being subjected to three minutes of them exponentially increases the potential annoyance to you. And it used to be five minutes. A new book — Vermont Air: The Best of the Vermont Public Radio Commentaries — is an exercise in selective hearing. You can read who you like in the new paperback published by University Press of New England. Each contributor is represented by three stories. “Everybody’s in there — the whole spectrum,” says author Philip Baruth, who edited the collection with fellow commentator and author Joe Citro. “It’s like a town meeting,” Baruth offers. “There are huge groups of people that you like and small knots of people you wish weren’t there. You can’t control it. Otherwise you lose the whole idea…” Experience the next best thing — a book release party, with all the writers — Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Burlington City Hall Auditorium.

hop ’til you drop: “Business” comes before “arts” in the title of the organization, but that’s only because it makes the acronym easier to pronounce. The South End Business and Arts has been linking culture and commerce since its first “Art Hop” invited public exploration of the creative enterprises in and around Pine Street in 1992. No wonder its member businesses hired a curator instead of a number-cruncher to steer the course. Lorna Kay Peale, 59, came from the education department at the Cinncinati Art Museum to organize entrepreneurs on the sunny side of town. One of them is her own daughter — Allison Dincecco owns a furniture store on Flynn Avenue. That’s SoHome.