The Inn at Montpelier, purchased in October 2020 by Michael and Lindsey Drake, has opened a 120-seat restaurant called “The Social” that will be serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner on Wednesdays through Sundays to start, and eventually seven days a week.
After a soft opening on the weekend of April 24–25, the restaurant at 147 Main Street officially opened on Saturday, May 1, serving 16 tables for breakfast, Michael Drake told The Bridge later that day.
With 54 seats on the large covered porch of the Inn, The Social has the largest outdoor seating area in Montpelier, according to Drake. Currently only 50 percent of those seats can be used because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the restaurant is limiting reservations to start. Walk-ins are welcome if there is room, he said. The indoor tables are spread among four dining rooms.
The Social has a large menu meant to accommodate a wide variety of tastes and diets. “If four people walk into a restaurant, one of them is likely on a restricted diet, either for health reasons or by choice, and we want to cater to as many people as we can,” Drake said.
Breakfast is served 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and includes everything from oatmeal to eggs benedict to double-caramelized French toast to a chorizo-and-egg sandwich. Starting on the weekend of May 8–9, Drake plans to offer the breakfast menu on weekends until 1 p.m. to satisfy the strong demand for brunch in Montpelier.
The lunch menu includes appetizers, soups, sandwiches, salads, and desserts, while an afternoon tea offered from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. includes appetizers, sweets, and various teas. The dinner menu includes appetizers, salads, 10 small plates, and 11 large plates, plus desserts.
Drake said he believes having a busy restaurant that is open every day is better in terms of quality, freshness, and staff engagement. The restaurant is offering health care coverage to its employees, which Drake expects will help draw workers. He hopes to retain them by offering employees a say in how the restaurant operates and building a fun workplace culture.
While Drake said that he appreciates nice “special event” restaurants, he is hoping he can keep The Social busy by going a different route and offering a variety of foods at reasonable prices in order to attract a crowd of regulars. Indeed, one departing diner on May 1 told Drake the prices were lower than he thought they would be and that he was leaving with a full stomach.
Drake and his wife Lindsey moved to Vermont just under two years ago. They both grew up in the hospitality industry, he said, then both worked in health care before deciding to make the move here and return to the hospitality industry. “We traveled a lot in our twenties,” said Drake, who has been to 40 states and is now 35 years old. “We’d been to Vermont a half-dozen times, and it was at the top of our list of places to live.”
The Drakes bought Zachary’s Pizza in Waterbury in December 2019. That restaurant is currently managed by Lindsey Drake, while Michael Drake concentrates on the Inn at Montpelier and The Social. Operating the businesses during the pandemic has been challenging, Drake said, and they have not had a lot of time to enjoy Vermont yet.
The restaurant’s name — The Social — is meant to reflect his belief that food and drink are best shared with friends and family. With the pandemic receding, Drake thinks people are “eager to get together” and eat out.
Business at the Inn has been fairly steady, he said, and on April 30 all 19 rooms in the Inn were rented out, largely because of Norwich University’s graduation that weekend.
To check out The Social’s menus, go to thesocialvt.com. Reservations can be made online or by calling 802-223-0722.