- Luke Awtry
- Mark Bove
If you’ve lived in the Burlington area for more than a few years, you probably remember Bove’s Restaurant. Luis and Victoria Bove opened their beloved Art Deco eatery on a memorable day — December 7, 1941. It closed at the end of 2015.
Three generations of the Bove family worked in the restaurant over its 74-year lifespan. They fed basically everyone in town. Politicians of all stripes dined there, Gov. Phil Scott to Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Bernie Sanders to President John F. Kennedy. They served athletes Sugar Ray Leonard and John LeClair. Nonna Victoria’s deep-dish lasagna was featured on the Food Network’s Throwdown With Bobby Flay.
Around 1996, grandson Mark Bove started thinking about bottling and selling his family’s signature sauces. “People started asking ‘why can’t I get the sauce at the grocery store?’” he recalls. “A light bulb went off.”
Inspired by the national success of Ben & Jerry’s, which also started in Burlington, Mark began dreaming of opening a manufacturing facility.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a Vermont location that worked. “I was forced to go outside the state,” he says. Bove’s began making and selling sauces from plants in Ohio and New York.
In 2015, Mark tried bringing the business back home. He and his brother, Rick, reached out to a few lenders. The most responsive? Mascoma Bank. Says Mark: “They were the most interested in the story about Bove’s, and the reason we worked so hard to get back to Vermont.”
Mascoma financed the creation of Bove’s 35,000-square-foot sauce factory in Milton, which opened in 2017. Says Mark: “They made my dream come true.”
The sauce Bove’s once made in five-gallon kettles is now created in containers that hold 600 gallons. The product is available in stores along the East Coast, in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. The company also sells online to customers all across the country.
Its 13 employees also make salsas, and salad dressings for other brands. And Bove’s caters events in a nostalgic “1941 room” in the factory, a replica of the old restaurant, which is available for rent.
Bove’s has always been a family business, says Mark. And the team Bove’s has in place now feels like family, including Mascoma Senior Vice President Elden Dube. “With Mascoma on board,” he says, “that family got a whole lot bigger.”