BENNINGTON -- After a month of renovations, Chef Robert Andrews was set to open his restaurant in the historic Bennington and Rutland Railroad Station at 150 Depot St. today.
Throughout the month of March, Andrews posted photos on social media to update the progression of changes to the restaurant, Bennington Station. Those changes have finally come to fruition.
The original train station entrance and banquet hall, known as the glass room, was walled off from the restaurant and tavern space. A ‘satellite bar,' in addition to the original bar, was built in the front of the house to provide more direct access to the patio.
"It certainly is a more intimate space and more conducive to weddings and special events," said Andrews. "We are getting a better local-bar crowd, so we wanted to improve the functionality of the bar and add a better quality (system) for our draught beers."
The station replaced the beer lines, and altered taps from a central system on the main floor to a new feed coming from a basement barrel cooler and a new glycol system.
Building owner and restaurant partner Jim Secor said that without the glass room, the restaurant still has the space to hold special events and banquets. "I think visually, (the renovation) brings this place back to the way it was when it was the Bennington Station," Secor said.
Every year, employees take a couple days to do a thorough, detailed cleaning of the restaurant. This year, Andrews and building owner and restaurant partner Jim Secor opted to line up cleaning with a renovation. They are turning the glass room into a Bennington office for Secor's engineering company, MSK Engineering and Design, an affiliate of Goldstone Architecture.
"In the last three years, we've tripled our amount of employees, and most of our business has been in Bennington," said Secor, whose glass room office will open in mid-May.
Andrews puts a seasonal twist on the menu twice a year. He took the change of seasons this year to revamp the bar, lunch and dinner menus for the reopen. He said the station will still have the largest seafood variety in the area, and that quality will remain consistent.
"Food prices have skyrocketed," said Andrews. "Jim and I had a very lengthy conversation about how to handle this. We have decided that we are not going to compromise our quality. There are other places in the area that are going to Mexican, Canadian and Australian beef. We are going to stay with what we've invested in: USDA certified Midwestern Angus high choice beef only."
Andrews said it's a misconception that the station is an expensive place for a celebrations. "A big part of what we are trying to do, is let people know that we are not just the place for special occasions," he said. "We are comparatively priced right in line with everyone else in town."
Due to a growth in lunch business, Andrews and Secor are adjusting the restaurant's hours to Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bar will stay open after the kitchen closes, as long as they are busy.
Contact Tom Momberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg