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Local Businesses Help to Restore Montpelier

Commercial Kitchen with stainless steel counters and two white workers wearing black aprons.
Ben Callat, left, and William C. Derouchie, workers at Buddy’s Famous. Photo by Mary Cole Mello.
Montpelier is one of those rare small cities that still has a downtown, a place where, as the New York Times once said, “Main Street is still Main Street.” We owe much of this vitality to our locally owned businesses and restaurants. Last week we were reminded how much these places are valued and how much they’re willing to give in return. 

On Tuesday, the landscape looked grim. When the waters in the streets drained away, the town was full of mud (and camera crews looking for quotes).

By Wednesday, volunteers were being welcomed, and hundreds began to arrive dressed in their worst and ready to work. Without being asked, restaurants also swung into action. Businesses that could still prepare food focused on feeding community members who needed help as well as the volunteers who worked up an appetite as they cleaned and cleared.

The Skinny Pancake opened its doors on Wednesday to anyone who needed a meal. No one was charged. The restaurant is now offering to waive payment for those who are “experiencing food insecurity.”

Buddy’s Famous, Sarducci’s, Shaws, Gram Central, local businessman Jesse Jacobs, and others all brought food to volunteer headquarters at 2 Main Street (aka the Hub), where volunteers are now providing hot and cold meals daily.

Sign outside the Skinny Pancake on July 17. Photo by Mary Cole Mello.
By Saturday afternoon, the Hub was living up to its name. Crowds had gathered to seek information, offer help, or to take a much needed break for lunch. Sarah Lipton, co-owner of Ghaza’s Goodies, arrived with treats to donate but stayed to help make sandwiches. Peter Walke, volunteer coordinator, was on hand and reported that it was sometimes hard to keep up with all the businesses hoping to support Montpelier. “One day, a pizza truck just showed up … from somewhere, ready to hand out food to everyone. He later discovered that the pizza was a gift from Nedde Real Estate in Burlington. 

Walke noted that Lawson’s Finest, Pepsi Burlington, Hind Quarter Catering, Shelburne’s Tap, and “many more” dropped off desperately needed items such as bottled water. World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides fresh meals to communities in crisis was here as well. 

Sometime in the future when we’re once more walking through the downtown, shopping, greeting friends, or sitting outside Julio’s watching the world go by, I hope we remember that we didn’t do it alone.

Currently open for business in Montpelier: Buddy’s Famous, Skinny Pancake, Cafe NOA, China Star, Birchgrove Bakery, Hunger Mountain Co-op, Kismet, Meadow Mart, and Shaw’s supermarket. Please see Montpelier Alive’s website for the names of other businesses as they open up: montpelieralive.com

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