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Sneaking Down the Street

Side Dishes: Winooski breakfast spot makes a quiet move

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Since 1980, Sneakers Bistro & Café has been keeping Winooski residents and out-of-town fans in hearty breakfast fare. Famous for offering creative daily specials and for being one of the only places around with grits, the spot made Esquire’s 2009 list of “The 59 Best Breakfast Places in America.”

Starting last Friday, patrons have been able to find all their faves in a new location: 28 Main Street, the former home of Blue Star Café, Food 88 and the short-lived LeeLaWaDee. “We’re just two doors down, so I hope nobody will get lost looking for us,” says Sneakers co-owner Marc Dysinger.

The move may come as a surprise to all but the most loyal customers. “I tried to keep it quiet for a little while, because I didn’t know how people would react,” Dysinger says. “But it needed to be done.”

Dysinger calls the switch “a heart-wrenching decision” but a necessary one. “This is a 30-year-old business that succeeded largely despite the space,” he explains. “This was a rare opportunity given the close proximity to where we were. We wanted to provide a better experience [to our customers].”

The new eatery is handicapped accessible and has more space to seat larger parties, as well as a basement that Dysinger plans to convert into a prep kitchen and bakery. “We’d love to do all of our baking,” he notes. The new layout, with a larger waiting area, will make it easier to accommodate customers who want hash or burgers to go. Another plus: The setup has allowed Sneakers to add a much-requested espresso machine.

What hasn’t changed? The menu and the “enviably loyal staff,” says Dysinger. And, while not all the fixtures from the old restaurant have shown up in the new one, he promises they’re coming: “We want to keep it funky and informal and preserve the neighborhood feel of it.”

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