It opened nine years ago on Burlington’s lower Main Street, then moved to the restaurant space in the Vermont House building. On May 29, Souza’s Brazilian Steakhouse will close in anticipation of another migration.
“We’ve been frustrated there,” says chef-owner Kelly Dietrich of the Vermont House. “We’ve been limited on space. On busy days we’ll turn away 100 people and only serve 50, because that’s all we hold.”
From the beginning, the space proved problematic for Dietrich, who left Souza’s tiny original home with the goal of adding a bar and a large central salad bar to the restaurant’s amenities. Once the move was done, he realized he had room for only a fraction of the salad bar space he’d hoped for, and the bar wasn’t happening.
The restaurant’s hood system made fire alarms a common occurrence in the building. “It’s embarrassing,” Dietrich says of the stink-eye he regularly gets from residents.
Dietrich hopes all these problems will be solved at Souza’s new home. He has two possible spaces in mind, one in Burlington — with its own parking — and one in South Burlington. Either way, he hopes to reopen by late fall.
Improvements will include the mammoth salad bar Dietrich has always wanted, boasting hot and cold traditional Brazilian items. “We could really do some nice stuff,” he says. “Things like ice carvings, to really make it a festive place to go.”
Live music will add to the special-occasion vibe, as will a full, sit-down bar. Dietrich hopes his new location will also have the space to allow for some cooking in the dining room, “so people can see what’s going on the fire.”
Perhaps most appealing for regular diners will be the extra seating — and no more hourlong waits for Sunday brunch.