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Repaint It Black

Side Dishes: Star chef buys Black Door Bar and Bistro

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In the middle of January, regulars at the Black Door Bar and Bistro may notice changes in the Montpelier nightspot. If they don’t, that’s OK, too, says new co-owner Laura Kloeti. Pending approval of their lease, she and husband Michael, chef-owner of Michael’s on the Hill in Waterbury, will take over the more casual restaurant.

Although Montpelier is abuzz with the news, the Black Door’s current owner, Phil Gentile, says that until the lease is signed, the hoped-for “smooth transition” is not a done deal. “I can pretty confidently say we all hope it happens,” he adds.

Gentile, previously owner of Julio’s Cantina Mexican Cuisine & Margarita Bar and A Single Pebble, says that, with his 60th birthday approaching, he looks forward to leaving the restaurant business in favor of evenings at home. Right now, he says, the Kloetis simply have “more vision and more horsepower” than he can offer his business.

Laura Kloeti is clear that diners shouldn’t expect the white-tablecloth ethos of the couple’s other biz to seep into their new venture. “We want to keep the integrity of the restaurant,” she says of the Black Door. “We love everything about it.”

That said, the Kloetis’ chosen chef certainly has highbrow credentials. The couple found Jean-Luc Matecat, a Vermont native who has spent much of his career in France, through a blind ad on Craigslist. “He did a tasting for us that blew us away,” says Kloeti. Matecat’s pairing of Green Mountain upbringing with European training fit the Kloetis’ vision of cuisine at the Black Door, which Laura describes as “locally driven with European flair.”

Devotees of the chimichurri and garlic aioli-topped Black Door burger can be assured those aren’t going anywhere. Laura Kloeti says the biggest change will be the addition of late-night hours. The bar will serve up its “provincial bistro fare” until midnight during the week and last call on weekends.

Kloeti says she and her Swiss-born husband are excited to join the Montpelier culinary community and specifically sought to open a restaurant in this city that reminds Michael of his hometown.

“It’s similar to Zürich in that it’s an extremely educated crowd, very understanding of one another,” Kloeti says of the tiny capital. “We want to serve everyone, from the truck driver to the governor, here.”

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