With an outdoor terrace festooned with white balloons, Panera Bread opened its first Vermont bakery-café on Burlington’s Church Street last Monday. “It seems strange we were never in Vermont before,” says the company’s district manager, David Almond, who moved to the Burlington area to help open the store. “No. 1518” was one of three stores that opened nationwide on the same day. Almond notes the chain “sells a lot of Vermont products,” including Vermont white cheddar cheese and coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
How does he think the chain’s baked goods — such as the spaceship-like “muffies” — will fare in the crowded local bakery scene? “I think we’ll fit in well,” enthuses Almond. “Plus, we’ve given 60 people jobs.” The 120-seat location gave some longtime Panera employees a chance to transfer back to their home turf, he adds.
Another Panera is scheduled to open early next year, in Rutland.
Waitsfield’s MINT Restaurant and Tea Lounge was wrecked during the recent floods, but its owners are still cooking. While the interior undergoes extensive renovation, Savitri Bhagavati and Iliyan Deskov have begun preparing lunches at the nearby Waitsfield United Church of Christ on Main Street. A limited menu — there’s no tea, for now — is available from Wednesday through Sunday for as long as the renovations take. It’ll be at least another month, says Bhagavati. And here’s something different: You pay what you think the meal is worth, whether you’re supping on soup or tarte tatin.
Burlington’s Magnolia Bistro closed for a few weeks this summer — long enough for staff to deal with minor repairs and renovation. Now the owners are having trouble dispelling rumors that the subterranean restaurant has closed for good. Co-owner July Sanders insists the bistro is most definitely open for business.
Last Thursday, a fire devastated Ploughgate Creamery in Albany. Owner Marisa Mauro was not available to speak by press time, but she wrote on Facebook, “At this point in time, I am not sure of the next step but will keep you all posted.” Our thoughts are with her.