Whether devotees frequent Three Penny Taproom for the beer, the food, the ambiance or all three, the craft-brew mecca is about to evolve in a way that will make them happy. It’s expanding into the space next door, where the owners will open a restaurant within a few months.
The 30-seat dining room, in the space recently vacated by Miller Sports, will be connected to the bar by a pair of doorways. But it will feel distinctly different from the taproom, according to co-owner Scott Kerner. New wood floors and a modern industrial vibe are likely. A full commercial kitchen — enabling chef Matthew Bilodeau to expand his menu — is definite.
“When Matthew came over, he took our food program to a whole ’nother level,” says Kerner. “Basically, we want Matthew’s food to shine. He doesn’t have to fly with cropped wings anymore. He can spread out and have more creative freedom.”
The chef is excited, too. “It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted,” says Bilodeau, who for two years has created his imaginative plates using only an induction burner, a panini press, a toaster oven and a Crock-Pot.
Though the menu is still nascent, Kerner says he is “stoked” about it, adding that the extra space will allow Three Penny to host more pairing dinners and other beer-related events. “We’ve done so much in terms of pairing the fantastic beers that we serve with Matthew’s food,” he says. “This gives us a really cool platform to work with.”
On the beverage side, the tap number will stay steady at 24, but the owners will expand their bottle list to include some of the “bigger bottles” they had before last year’s devastating spring flood. (The extra space has another benefit in flood-prone Montpelier: Now Three Penny staff will be able to pull some of their mechanical systems out of the basement.)
A new “small and succinct” cocktail list will officialize some of the libations already poured in the taproom. “Our bartenders are amazing at making cocktails, but they have their lists in their heads,” Kerner says. The wine list will grow, too.
Once the eatery is open this summer — Kerner declines to name a date — dining hours are likely to be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with brunch hours on Sunday.
For now, the owners can afford to be patient. Kerner says that, almost from the time Three Penny opened in 2009, they’ve been looking to expand. “It’s the next perfect step for us,” he says. “I’m giddy about it.”