In the kiddie classic Chicken Soup With Rice, Maurice Sendak - famed for Where the Wild Things Are - expounds on the joy of sipping his favorite fluid all year round. Local businessman Brian Stone, owner of the Garden of Eatin' Café at the Four Seasons Garden Center in Williston, hopes visitors to Church Street share Sendak's soupy passion. Later this month, he'll open his as-yet-unnamed soup-'n'-grilled-cheese spot in the kiosk formerly occupied by Klinger's Bread Company.
"I make cream soups, broth soups, chilis, stews and chowders," Stone says. "I've been in the restaurant business since I was 17, so I've got 21 years of making . . . yummy comfort food." In addition to traditional flavors, Stone proudly ladles up a few unusual varieties. "There are some that go a little off the wall, that I do more for myself to break the monotony and have a little fun," he relates. "I make a yummy Thai peanut chicken. Around this time of year I make 'turkey in a blueberry patch,' which is a cream soup with turkey and blueberries."
But even an aficionado like Stone knows eaters can't live on soup alone. So he hit on a pairing that's quick and easy to make in a 126-square-foot space: build-your-own grilled cheese. "The panini came out of the idea of complementing the soup," he explains. "We're gonna have a really good variety of cheeses. You pick your cheese, pick your bread and pick your dressing." If all goes well, Stone will offer numerous artisan bread choices and perhaps a dozen cheeses.
How will a soup kiosk weather the summer, when folks are less interested in warming up? Besides making chilled soups such as gazpacho, kiosk staffers will whip up ice-cold smoothies, and perhaps fill a notable lacuna in the Marketplace food scene by preparing creemees.
But good works will be a year-round effort. For every bowl of soup he sells, Stone says, he'll donate a bowl to charity. Although he's still ironing out the details, he plans to make deliveries to agencies such as the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf and the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. "The idea is to work with organizations that already do [food distribution] and bring it to them in bulk," he explains. "That's all in the works."