Vt. restaurants look to rebound after burst pipes closed kitchens

Restaurant owners have been through a lot with pandemic shutdowns, different menus, and staffing shortages. But some had it extra hard this winter with burst pi
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:24 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTH HERO, Vt. (WCAX) - Restaurant owners have been through a lot with pandemic shutdowns, different menus and staffing shortages, but some had it extra hard this winter with burst pipes.

Vermonters might remember that one really cold weekend the first weekend of February. We know of at least two businesses in Vermont that had pipes explode and they just reopened in May. Both say they made lemonade out of lemons.

Two restaurants are kicking off the summer season with some unplanned upgrades.

At Blue Paddle Bistro in South Hero, repairs to a February burst pipe wrapped up just in the knick of time.

“It was dumping like 35 gallons every three minutes. There’s about two inches of water in the kitchen itself and then down in the basement,” said Phoebe Bright, co-owner of Blue Paddle Bistro.

Co-owner Mandy Hotchkiss said she spent every day with contractors until they were ready to reopen their doors. The restaurant hoped that would be Valentine’s Day, but the damage in the kitchen ended up being more extensive than expected.

“They had to rip everything out to dry it out. That wall came down, so it allowed the kitchen to grow that way which was very nice. Yeah, very much open now it wasn’t open before... I think it was your everyday blessing in disguise in many ways. I have a brand new kitchen and I mean with it becomes a brand new attitude,” said Bright.

An hour away there is a similar situation at Idletyme Brewing Company in Stowe.

“The dishwasher came in about 7:30 the next morning and found it raining in the kitchen,” said John Neville, the general manager of Idletyme Brewing Company.

Burst pipes that same February weekend ahead of a busy Presidents Day ski weekend. Neville said they had no choice but to temporarily close.

“We went through and ripped out the floors, the walls, the ceilings, giant exhaust hood system, all the equipment came out. The process took weeks just to get started,” he said.

Neville said it was a tough time not only for the community but also for the staff.

“Wondering how it could have prevented it to scared about what’s the future of the restaurant at that point. You know, a lot of people’s livelihoods and families depend on this place besides the local community that likes to come in, just enjoy the food and beer,” said Neville.

They, too, remained closed until this month. But Neville says the business came out stronger.

Like Blue Paddle, Idletyme was able to spruce up other parts of their restaurant and say they’re glad they had the time to do so.

If you own a business in Vermont these restaurants say investing in preventative repair measures is always helpful, and to make sure you have a good insurance plan.