- Courtesy Of Luke Awtry Photography
- From left: Sam Tolstoi, Tierney Munger and Matt Small with Abby Manock's "Distance Beasts" at Muddy Waters
The "Distance Beasts" are stirring inside Burlington's Muddy Waters. Artist Abby Manock's colorful creatures have been hibernating along with the coffeehouse since mid-November 2020. Now the Main Street mainstay is preparing to reopen for takeout in mid-April, and when it does, it will be under new ownership.
Longtime general manager Tierney Munger has teamed up with Manhattan Pizza & Pub owners Sam Tolstoi and Matt Small to purchase Muddy Waters from Mark Mackillop, who owned the business for 26 years.
Munger, 31, who will be the managing partner, has been behind the coffee shop's bar for 10 years. Mackillop first asked whether she'd be interested in buying the business a couple of years ago, she said; she was, but they agreed to take the process slowly.
"Then COVID hit," she said. "Mark was ready to move on to something different, and I was really fortunate to be here at that time to say, 'Yes, I want this business.'"
Munger approached her friends Small, 37, and Tolstoi, 35, with the opportunity, and they quickly agreed. "It was really pretty straightforward," Small said. "We get to work with Tierney, and we get to keep the car running. Mark started it, and we'll keep it in the lane."
"We know this business really well just from coming in here every day and drinking caffeine," Tolstoi added. "It's a natural progression of one generation passing it on to the next."
The reopening menu will stick to tried-and-true "Muddy's" coffee and food items, with new pastries from Sisyphus Baking. Manock's alien-like beasts will continue to block off seats and help customers keep their distance.
Eventually, the new owners plan to use the larger kitchen at Manhattan Pizza & Pub — which will also reopen for takeout in late April — to expand the café's food offerings. They hope to bring live music back to Muddy's, add an art gallery, and host pop-up dinners for new businesses and area chefs as they put their own stamp on the rustic space.
"It's a Burlington institution and a place of comfort for a lot of people," Munger said of Muddy's. "We all want to keep it that way."