Is Rutland becoming a dining destination? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is Rutland becoming a dining destination?

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Bon appetit! When it comes to dining it Rutland, those who frequent area restaurants say the food is something to talk about.

Larry Nowakowski is head chef at Griffin's Publick House on Center Street. After attending culinary school in San Diego and working as a chef all over the U.S. and in Paris, he was attracted to Rutland for its quality of life.

"I just thought it was a great idea to raise my kids in a more natural environment," Nowakowski said.

As a head chef, he says Rutland's easy access to locally sourced foods is appealing.

"In the city you have to really seek that out, it's not as easy. Here it just seems, you make a phone call, they show up. You strike a deal and it's over," Nowakowski said.

Although Rutland continues to battle an image problem, with Gov. Peter Shumlin recently saying it is an "unfair" symbol of Vermont's drug problem, those in the restaurant industry continue to expand.

Roots restaurant celebrated its third anniversary this month and owner Donald Billings is now running his third area business.

"Because I believe in Rutland," Billings said.

And he says doing business in Rutland just makes sense when it comes to the bottom line.

"Our numbers grow, they've been growing every year," Billings said.

Rutland has the highest concentration of restaurants within a 50-mile radius and those numbers are only growing.

"We have a brewery that is in the midst of being opened on Center Street and they will be offering a food component as well," said Michael Coppinger of the Downtown Rutland Partnership.

Coppinger acknowledges that the restaurant industry is not easy.

"The restaurant industry is certainly a tough industry and we're thankful of the great restaurants that we have here in the downtown," he said.

Some Rutland foodies agree.

Those in the restaurant industry say overall, sales are up for 2014. Kelvan's restaurant reported a 40 percent increase in revenue from last year. Those in the industry say they just expect things to improve in the Marble City.

Rutland's Restaurant Week runs through Thursday and nine area establishments are participating.

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