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Black Door and Essex Bakery Close

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Published January 9, 2013 at 7:16 a.m.

Ringing in 2013 was bittersweet for the Black Door’s owner, Ignacio Ruiz, and manager, Rhonna Gable. The pair knew that the new year would mean the end of the Montpelier restaurant they had opened in the spring of 2011.

What was the nail in the coffin of the eatery and music venue? “If you look at the state of the economy, you can probably draw your own conclusion,” Gable says. “It was a best-effort sort of situation. I feel that everyone truly did their best.” Neither she nor Ruiz is sure of their next step, but Gable says she hopes prospective restaurateurs will contact realtor Montpelier Property Management “to get someone else in here soon.”


During a weeklong winter break, Burlington’s Pistou will undergo a quiet transformation. Given the involvement of Dedalus wine store co-owner Jason Zuliani and his wife, Emilie Paquette, you can be sure it involves wine.

Chef Max Mackinnon — who was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award last year — will continue to serve up his French-inflected fare, but he, Zuliani and Paquette will redesign the menu to encourage sharing and pairing with some of the unusual wines that Zuliani plans to offer.

“We want people to think about what they’re going to drink. The wine is going to come into focus,” says Zuliani, whose reimagined list details the backstories of regions such as Beaujolais and a much-loved producer, the Rhône’s Domaine Gramenon.

Paquette will manage the front of the house going forward; former Pistou partner Maji Chien has left to pursue other interests.

Pistou is currently closed for a winter break but will reopen on January 16. To read more about the changes at the eatery, check out the Bite Club Blog at


The Essex Bakery & Café in the Essex Shoppes & Cinema shut its doors at the end of 2012. The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa’s director of food and beverage, Arnd Sievers, says the hotel’s bakery outlet simply didn’t get enough foot traffic.

“We got great comments about our food and the quality, but there wasn’t enough business to support it,” Sievers says. He notes that the same problem contributed to the closure of Rustico’s, the pasta restaurant that preceded the bakery in the same location. The restaurants that have succeeded in the spot have all been owner-operated, Sievers asserts, an impossibility for the resort.

The cakes and pastries previously sold at the bakery are now available by special order, and the breads may be purchased from the bakery case in the lobby of the Essex.

Sievers hints that the resort has big, fresh plans in the works. His only clue: The new business will not refill the newly empty 21 Essex Way storefront.