(Host) When the Farmer’s Diner closed in Barre last year, owner Tod Murphy said he was still committed to the idea of a restaurant that relies on local producers for most of its food.
As VPR’s Steve Zind reports, Murphy plans to try again next month when he opens a new Farmer’s Diner in Quechee.
(Zind) The new diner will be located in a space that formerly housed a restaurant in Quechee Gorge village on busy Route 4.
Murphy says the high traffic volume at the popular tourist site and its proximity to upper valley population centers will give the new establishment advantages that the Barre diner lacked. He says the key difference is the size of the restaurant. Murphy says the Barre diner struggled to make ends meet because it could only seat fifty people. The new diner will seat 125 customers, which is closer to the size of the family restaurant chains.
Like the old restaurant, Murphy says the goal continues to be to support local growers and producers.
(Murphy) “Our goal is to get to 70 cents of every dollar within a 50 to 100-mile radius and then try to pull that radius in. I think given the size of that restaurant it will be probably three times larger in volume than Barre was. We’re shooting to come out of the gates at45 cents of every dollar spent locally and over the course of 18 months to drive that up. We’ll all break open a bottle of champagne when we can get to 75 or 80 cents of our dollar on food spent locally.”
(Zind) Murphy says he’s struggling to find pork producers to supply the diner. He hopes to convince dairy farmers to raise hogs as a way to augment their milk checks.
Murphy says twenty investors have contributed almost half a million dollars to open the new restaurant. Many of them invested in the Barre location.
He acknowledges that slow service and inconsistent quality were problems at the original Farmer’s Diner. He says a larger kitchen and an increased staff will improve the food and the service.
The diner is scheduled to open at the end of August.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.