Pauline's Café, famous for its European-inspired comfort foods, has a new proprietor. On Monday Robert Fuller, also owner of Leunig's Bistro & Café in Burlington and the Bobcat Café in Bristol, sold his Shelburne Road property to Head Chef David Hoene. Before taking the job at Pauline's, Hoene was chef de cuisine at Mary's Restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek.
Although he's working on the wine list - they've already started serving high-end wines by the glass on Friday nights - Hoene says not much will change where the food is concerned. "I've been here for seven years, so the menu is pretty much all mine, anyway."
What prompted Fuller to sell one of his successful restaurants? A desire to do good. The restaurateur has a "long-simmering dream" of joining the Peace Corps, he says. "My wife and I have been talking about it for five years . . . We are very interested in volunteering, number one, and going somewhere for an extended period of time to really absorb another culture." Another motivator: "To try to ameliorate some of the government policies that make America look bad."
What does this mean for his other two restaurants? "I won't be able to go away until I either have owner-partners or sell them to someone else," he says. "Whether that will come to pass is anybody's guess."
'Tis the do-or-die season for dining establishments, and Adrianas isn't the only casualty. Last week, we reported that the Blue Star Café in Winooski, also the home of buzz biz Fresh Coffee Now, had stopped serving dinner. This week, Matt Sutte, who owns both, confirmed that the hipster haven will soon stop cooking altogether: The BSC will close around the holidays, if not sooner. "The real deal is that I'm selling a lot of coffee, and I don't have time to do both," Sutte says. "I picked the one that makes money."
Given the success of nearby Tiny Thai, Sutte's opinion is that another Asian offering would fit the bill better than a coffee shop. "I really think a sushi place would be the best thing ever there. I think it would make money the first weekend and never stop," he predicts. Sutte is selling the restaurant and the lease, but not the "Blue Star" name.
He's moving his roastery to a building on Flynn Avenue, where it will be in good company - the Switchback brewery and McKenzie's local headquarters are in the same 'hood. "I've got a storage area over there, rent's cheaper, and I don't have to roast coffee in a basement anymore," Sutte says.
When he opened the Blue Star, Sutte had high hopes that downtown Winooski would be transformed into an enclave of eateries. "I envisioned this cool, new place with 10 or 15 restaurants," he muses. "A dining destination. But we've proven that you can't put anything too high-end in there. Papa Frank's has the wrap-up on local Winooski business, and I don't think that's going to change."
Just down the road in Colchester, Chef Chris Hechanova of Big Chile Republic expects that his new restaurant will be inspected this week and open soon thereafter. "Everything moved a lot faster after the major work was done," Hechanova says of his new eatery located where Junior's Italian used to be. Hechanova, a NECI dropout, used to run a delivery-only food business out of his Burlington apartment. Anyone who's tasted his takeout will agree with Hechanova's assessment: "It's good news all the way around."
Wings Over Burlington, B-town's newest source for wraps, ribs and saucy chicken in 20 different flavors, opened last Wednesday in the Blue Mall on Dorset Street. According to "phone operator" Jacob Didyoung, "Evenings have been going really well," but things are "still a little stagnant during the morning." Perhaps folks just aren't ready to chow down on "Jet Fuel" strength wings at 11 a.m.?
The place does eat-in, take-out and delivery. Tech-savvy customers can even purchase their poultry on the web. Wanna charge your waffle fries to Mom and Dad? WOB accepts all local "college cards."