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Shifting Landscape

Side Dishes: NECI executive chef opens restaurant in beloved Stowe space

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There are big changes afoot at the New England Culinary Institute — the repercussions of which are being felt on Mountain Road in Stowe. Next week, executive chef Tom Bivins is leaving his post to open a new restaurant. Crop Bistro will occupy the building that currently houses the venerable Shed Restaurant & Brewery on Stowe’s commercial strip.

Chef-owner Bivins says his new place will open in mid- to late December. He’ll still teach a class at NECI, where Paul Sorgule, vice president of culinary education, will share leadership duties with vice president of food and beverage operations Kevin O’Donnell.

“The goal is to really push the local-use envelope,” Bivins says of his restaurant. “It’s the perfect venue to show what Vermont does best.” Rather than landscaping Crop’s outdoor property, the chef plans to remake it into a garden this spring. He’ll grow hops to use in a remodeled version of the Shed’s brewery. As for the cuisine, Bivins says, “It’s not a white-tablecloth restaurant. It will be your popular-price restaurant concept, just much nicer food.”

For their part, Shed owners Ken and Kathy Strong are mourning their loss. Ken and then-partner Ted Ross opened the restaurant in 1965. In 1994, its original building burned to the ground; the couple reopened after only 11 months. According to Kathy Strong, the Shed has been doing well, but its lease expires on October 31, and the couple was not offered a chance to renew it.

The Strongs are currently looking for another location for their beloved business. “If this cannot be our home anymore, then we feel we owe it to so many people that have a special place in our heart to find a new home,” says Kathy. “Our loyal employees and patrons have made the Shed what it is, and that’s a great feeling.”

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