BELLOWS FALLS -- A local business has reopened its doors as a new-and-improved enterprise after being closed five weeks for renovations.
Valley Provisions unveiled its new Local Foods Café on Monday and the shop that serves as a showcase for local foodstuffs now has outside tables and a place inside for customers to sit and enjoy their food.
Owner Bonnie North had filed an application to the Rockingham Planning Commission to add restaurant use to her official retail use. She met with the commission earlier this month after many of her patrons -- who come in to buy items such as paninis, soup or cookies -- asked if they could sit down to enjoy their food and talk with friends. But in order to put any seats in the building, North had to officially become a restaurant.
She said she got the commission’s affirmative decision in the mail a few days after she met with its members. Rockingham Zoning Administrator Ellen Howard said North wanted to add a maximum of 24 seats.
Though it had been just a little more than 24 hours since reopening, North said Tuesday the response from the community had been tremendous.
"It’s been incredible. We’re really, really busy. It’s very heartwarming," she said in a telephone interview. "There’s been incredible support from the people in town."
The business, which opened about a year ago, now has two new co-owners in Krissie and Drew Pelletiere, who live across the street from North in Bellows Falls. North said the three got talking and she learned about how the Pelletieres had wanted to start a café. North had been interested in turning Valley Provisions into some kind of café and the idea soon came together.
Krissie and Drew previously interned on a farm in South Royalton, where they worked with pigs, cows, sheep, chickens and turkeys and used sustainable and organic practices to grow vegetables. Drew, who works as a carpenter, grew up in Chester and used some old slabs of reclaimed wood to build most of the furniture in the new café.
Krissie, a native of Long Island, fell in love with Vermont during visits with her aunt, who owns the Moon Dog Café in Chester. An avid "foodie," she has worked at Moon Dog for the past several years furthering her knowledge of food.
North said the café should help the village, in terms of both business and pleasure. The shop specializes in local, fresh and organic foods and sells many products from the immediate area.
"I personally I think it’s going to do a lot (for the community)," she said, adding that in the past couple of days several people -- including one from San Diego -- had stopped in while driving through Vermont. "A rising tide lifts all boats."
The café is currently serving its summer menu, though that will change with the seasons. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.