Vermont Comedy Club’s Happy Place Café Opens in Burlington | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Comedy Club’s Happy Place Café Opens in Burlington

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Seating at Happy Place Café - COURTESY OF HAPPY PLACE CAFÉ/VERMONT COMEDY CLUB
  • Courtesy Of Happy Place Café/vermont Comedy Club
  • Seating at Happy Place Café

The lights are back on at Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington. When the venue at 101 Main Street celebrates its grand reopening on Thursday, September 2, those lights will also be on during the daytime at Happy Place Café.

"We have always talked about the fact that the space is empty during the day," VCC co-owner Nathan Hartswick told Seven Days. "We thought if we could zhuzh it up a little and add an espresso machine — give it its own daytime identity — that it could be a really fun community space where people can hang out, get coffee and work."

But Hartswick and his wife, VCC co-owner Natalie Miller, didn't have time to bring the café to life until the club closed in March 2020. The pandemic pause let them take a step back and reimagine the space, Hartswick said.

The bar and lounge area is now a colorful, bright, airy café with seating, outlets and Wi-Fi.

Ryan Kenyon, the club's longtime cook, has made the menu lunch-friendly with fresh items such as a grilled chicken and Brie salad; housemade soups; and sandwiches, including a pulled-pork panini with mozzarella and red cabbage slaw, and a roasted-root-vegetable wrap.

Local barista Gianni Paradiso will manage the café, using Vivid Coffee Roasters' Happy Place Blend for its house espresso. A rotating roster of guest roasters — prioritizing marginalized groups — starts with Essex's Uncommon Coffee.

The café's name nods to a two-person improv show called "Happy Place" that Miller and Hartswick used to perform. "It works for our dorky, colorful, fun, silly identity," Hartswick said.

Happy Place will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; masks are required. In the evenings, the space will once again be a bar and lounge. Proof of vaccination is required for admittance to nighttime events, but not for entrance to the café during the day.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Belly Laugh"