"We had to make hard decisions to decide if we can go into May," says John Delpha, chef and co-owner of the Belted Cow Bistro in Essex Junction. "We can't."
Delpha and wife and co-owner Caitlin Bilodeau will close their restaurant after a final casual dinner service on April 30. Though the Belted Cow has a strong local following, Delpha says that loyalty wasn't enough to support the restaurant. "The winter was just devastating," he explains. "We can't bounce back. It's been a pleasure being here for five years, and we thank everyone who supported us."
Delpha says he and Bilodeau will return to the Boston area, where the pair previously fed fans of his world-class barbecue and sophisticated comfort food.
Back in Essex, foodies are hoping to attract a new restaurant with community appeal. Bridget Meyer, an organizer of the 5 Corners Farmers Market, says she and others from that group have discussed the possibility of bringing a community-supported restaurant into the space.
While one community mourns a central restaurant, another greets a new one. Following drastic renovations, McGillicuddy's on the Green opened last week in Colchester. According to owner David Nelson, traffic at the former Jack & Grill space has been steady, thanks to eager locals who have long been monitoring the restaurant's progress.
Soon those diners will be able to enjoy meals such as corned-beef-and-cabbage or bangers with sweet potato mash served on a canopy-covered deck.
Brandon, too, has a new spot to grab a meal. Café CMAC is a sequel to Brandon Music Café inside the spiffy new Compass Music and Arts Center. The same owners, Edna and Stephen Sutton, are behind this second location devoted to enjoying fine art and music along with the culinary arts.
The café serves homemade quiche, coffee and sweets from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. Edna Sutton says Brandon Music Café still serves dinner with live music shows and will host a special Mother's Day high tea. But events may gradually migrate to the new space, where Sutton has a larger kitchen in which to prepare her American and British comfort food.
On a recent Monday, daily specials included several soups, including carrot and ginger, garden mint and pea, and ham and vegetable. If it sounds perfect for a spot of tea, that's the intention. Fans of Sutton's brews will soon be able to enjoy a cuppa at the new space, where she plans to open a full-service tearoom.