- Courtesy Amy Livingston
- Chile North business partners (from left): Mara Welton, Spencer Welton, Carina Driscoll and Blake Ewoldsen
Mara and Spencer Welton are teaming up with Carina Driscoll and her husband, Blake Ewoldsen, to turn the Weltons’ Chile Colorado food cart into a Burlington restaurant, café and bar called Chile North. It will open the first week of July in the former location of Smitty’s Pub at the Ethan Allen Shopping Center on North Avenue.
Driscoll and Ewoldsen cofounded the Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax. Driscoll, who is the daughter of Jane O’Meara Sanders and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), ran for Burlington mayor in 2018.
Both couples live in the New North End and have known each other for 15 years. As the pandemic eased, all four friends found themselves at a juncture and evaluating their next steps.
“Carina really wanted to buy a business,” Mara said. “We said, ‘Let’s do a food thing!’”
The Weltons owned Half Pint Farm in Burlington’s Intervale for 16 years before selling it in 2019. They launched Chile Colorado at the Burlington Farmers Market in the winter of 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene obliged them to harvest as much as they could from their farm before it flooded.
“We realized we had all the supplies to make food from home,” Mara recalled, referring to the cuisine of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado with which she and her husband grew up in the latter state.
“It’s such a place-based food. Everywhere you go, you can get a smothered burrito. Every single house you go to, you can smell the beans on the stove,” Mara said. “People couldn’t believe they could get green chile up here.”
The Weltons ran Chile Colorado for three winters before putting it on the back burner. They had decided to relaunch it right before COVID-19 hit and reconsidered briefly before reopening at the end of March 2020.
“We love the New North End,” Mara said. “We said, ‘Let’s just feed people. That’s what we love to do.’”
Over the past year, Chile Colorado has evolved from offering delivery only to holding weekly pop-ups at the Burlington Elks Lodge and Simple Roots Brewing.
The Weltons will focus on the food at Chile North while Driscoll and Ewoldsen handle management. The business partners will close on the sale of Smitty’s Pub on June 1 and do some renovations before opening over the July 4 weekend.
To start, Chile North will be open Thursday through Saturday for breakfast and dinner, and Sunday for brunch. The bar will offer beers and specialty cocktails. Mara described the menu as “Southwestern plus,” with more salads and vegetable dishes than the cuisine traditionally includes. “You’re talking to former veggie farmers,” she said with a laugh.
“There will always be beans. There will always be chile. There will always be tortillas,” Mara said. Also likely to be on the menu are chiles rellenos, sopapillas and baked goods such as cinnamon rolls and scones.
Correction, May 31, 2021: An earlier version of this story misstated Carina Driscoll's relationship to Bernie Sanders. She is legally his daughter.