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Bark and Bite

Side Dishes: New restaurant to take Bistro Sauce's Shelburne spot


For more than 35 years, Carolyn and John Kovac have “had the good fortune of going to restaurants all over the country,” says Carolyn, while dreaming of opening a place of their own. Soon their plans will come to fruition at Barkeaters Restaurant in Shelburne, located in the spot soon to be vacated by Bistro Sauce.

“Sauce was very near and dear to our hearts,” says Carolyn. “We were thrilled when the opportunity presented itself.”

The Charlotte couple is partnering with Jennifer Sinclair of Essex, former co-owner of The Clover House Restaurant, to open a spot they say will combine the charms of their home state with those of their favorite getaway — the Adirondacks.

And the name? It’s a translation of the Mohawk word ratirontaks (anglicized as Adirondacks). The term started as a slur used for tribes that ate tree bark to survive the winters, but the Kovacs say they like its connotations of self-reliance — and its reminder of their favorite vacation spot. In the Adirondacks, “you see a lot of ‘bark eater’ bed-and-breakfasts and lounges,” Carolyn explains.

Barkeaters’ décor will show hints of upstate New York, Carolyn explains, but many of the ingredients will come from Vermont. “We are very committed to supporting local suppliers,” she says. “That’s a passion for us.”

Wine is another of the couple’s passions — John Kovac has been “a collector for many years,” his wife attests — and Carolyn promises “an unbelievable wine list” in addition to fine American cuisine.

The trio is currently seeking a head chef and other staffers, but Carolyn intimates that the search may be winding down. “We have a number of oars in the water,” she says. “But we pretty much have everything lined up.”

Although Sinclair will be running the front and back of the house, Carolyn says she and John will have a regular presence at the eatery. “Our customers can expect to see our smiling faces there, as well,” she notes. “We’ll be hands on. My husband is looking forward to doing some of the bartending. From bartending to bussing, he can do it all.”

In short, Carolyn says “We want to bring the best of what we’ve enjoyed the most from our [dining] experiences to Barkeaters.”