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The Spot Opens Outpost for Hula Tenants


Hula tenant Ryan Midden and the Spot at Hula manager Justine Morse - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Hula tenant Ryan Midden and the Spot at Hula manager Justine Morse
The Spot restaurant group has added another Spot.

On February 1,  a third Spot location opened at 50 Lakeside Avenue in the former Blodgett Oven factory, which has been transformed into a multi-tenant office complex and innovation hub called Hula.

The Spot at Hula joins its older siblings: the original Spot restaurant built in a converted gas station at 210 Shelburne Road in Burlington and Spot on the Dock, a seasonal destination at the King Street ferry dock.

Hula was cofounded by Russ and Roxanne Scully, the married team also behind the Spot restaurants. In addition, they own the Burlington Surf Club on the lake just north of Hula and WND&WVS retail shop on Pine Street.
The three Spot eateries all nod to the couple's passion for surfing and tropical island life, along with cross-over menu items such as fish tacos and the Cloudbreak chef's salad with grilled chicken.

But the Spot at Hula is different from its predecessors in one major way, Russ Scully explained: It is not a public restaurant but a workplace cafeteria.

The Spot at Hula is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no signage outside, and the sole takeout option is to carry food away on the bright Fiestaware plates and bowls or bring your own containers. (When this reporter ordered online, unaware of this policy, staff cheerfully offered  to cover my Cloudbreak salad, Cali turkey club and green smoothie with plastic wrap and trusted I would return the dishes — before I introduced myself.)

This is to reduce use of single-use plastics, explained the Spot at Hula's manager, Justine Morse, during a recent visit. It also emphasizes the point that the café is not intended to cater to the general public.

"It is designed to accommodate the 500 people who are tenants of Hula," Scully confirmed by phone. "We are not allowed to promote it to the public."

Hula is located in an area of Burlington that is zoned by the city for enterprise and light manufacturing. This prohibits restaurants and residential projects, Scully explained.

However, he allowed that Hula is set up to host 100 different businesses in a co-working environment, and that makes it nearly impossible to verify that every Spot customer is a Hula tenant or a guest.

Essentially, anyone who happens to find the Spot at Hula and craves an açaí bowl or local beef burger can order and sit down to eat in the airy dining space.
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • The Spot at Hula
Many Hula tenants, though, order online and carry their food back to their offices. On a recent Monday at about 9 a.m., Ryan Midden was patiently waiting for his breakfast of housemade granola with peanut butter and a fruit bowl.

Midden is the director of people and culture for One Percent for the Planet. His organization moved into Hula in December. By mid-February,  its 13 Vermont employees were all back in the office under a hybrid model.

He said he appreciates the on-site eatery very much. "It's got, like, a Google campus vibe," Midden said. "We just need a ping-pong table and we're good."