(This story was first published in the April 25, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
By Virginia Dean
The restaurant housing the former East Ender will be up and running again as a result of a recent purchase of the Route 4 building this week.
The selling price of $197,500 was accepted and closed upon by a Boston investor represented by three local individuals who currently own the Worthy Burger restaurant in South Royalton that opened in August 2012.
Kurt Lessard, Jason Merrill and David Brodrick — all from Barnard — will be leasing the building from the undisclosed investor and become the sole managing and operational overseers. The realtor is Robert Wallace Real Estate of Woodstock.
The new business will be called the Worthy Kitchen: A Craft Beer Diner, and it’s slated to open in late July or early August. Commercial catering will also be offered under the name Worthy Catering and will begin operations immediately in a state-of-the-art kitchen with a large, mobile, wood-fired grill in a Worthy Truck and Trailer that will also appear at various outdoor events around the state.
Bookings have begun and so far include several weddings this summer, beer festivals in Greensboro, and the Vermont Brewers Fest in mid-July. There is currently plenty of available space, Merrill said.
“We’re super excited,” said Lessard. “It will enable us to expand what we do as far as food services as well as our South Royalton business. I’m very excited. It’s great to be part of the Woodstock business community.”
Lessard is the owner and operator of Lessard Property Management. He also does accounting for several businesses in Woodstock, including restaurants. Merrill has been chef at the Jackson House in Woodstock, the Hanover Inn in Hanover, N.H., and various restaurants in Arizona. Brodrick is the current owner of a craft beer bar and restaurant called The Blind Tiger in Greenwich Village in New York City.
“We’re excited about moving into this new spot,” Merrill said. “It gives us the thing we need most: a much bigger cooking facility.”
Though the internal structure of the Worthy Kitchen is still in the process of being set up, Merrill said, its food will have a woodfired element although the smoke, he added, will be coming from their wood-burning oven.
Foods that will be offered at the restaurant will include sourdough breads for sandwiches along with a rotating list of pastas, salads, soups, fried chicken, steak and fish, with ingredients as local as possible, Merrill said.
Additional items will include prepared foods to go, including Worthy Burger kits for grilling at home. The kits will contain raw patties, buns, lettuce, onions and house-made chips for customers to take home to grill.
“I’m really excited,” Brodrick said. “The Worthy Burger has been really fun and a great experience. But we all thought about what we would do differently if we were to have another restaurant. The kitchen is tiny and we haven’t been able to do a lot of the things we have wanted. The Worthy Burger will give us a chance to cook the foods we want and connect with local farmers and distributors. The new kitchen is gigantic, and the equipment will be top of the line. It will all allow us to have affordable prices on a bigger scale and with more control.”
The oversized kitchen, Merrill added, will not only enable the managers to buy and process even more of their ingredients from their favorite farmers in the area, but also allow them to highlight a particular breed of animal from a local farm and include it in their specials.
“We’ll also be building a special walk-in refrigerator so we can expand our pickling operations,” Merrill said.
On the beverage side, the new restaurant will offer 20 artisanal beers on draught, six wines, hard cider, and kombucha — an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea.
“We’ll also make our own sodas, lemonades and teas,” said Merrill. “On Saturdays and Sundays, our brunch will include house-made Bloody Marys.”
Worthy Kitchen will take over more and more of the food prep for Worthy Burger, Merrill noted.
“We can then grind our own burger blends, offer more specials, and further improve the efficiency of our operations,” Merrill said.
The Worthy Kitchen will accommodate 80 seats inside and 25 on the outdoor deck. There will also be room for private parties, Merrill added.
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