MANCHESTER — Joseph and Patty Iraci have been coming to Manchester with their two children, Andrew and Olivia, for the past 21 years.
During their visits, they've always eaten their favorite dishes — crispy duck with rosemary and garlic for Joseph and Olivia; lobster macaroni and cheese for Andrew; and just about all of it for Patty — at Ye Olde Tavern.
On May 16, which happens to be Patty’s birthday, the Iracis purchased the restaurant from previous owner Michael Brandt, who had acquired the business in 2001.
“When this became available, it made so much sense,” said Joseph Iraci.
Iraci, who works in financial services and is an adjunct professor of risk management and economics at St. John’s University and New Jersey City University, knows a lot about business. But when it comes to running Ye Olde Tavern, he said he will step aside and let the staff continue to do their job.
“We didn’t have to worry about hiring,” he said.
The entire crew, many who have been employed at Ye Olde Tavern for several years, has stayed on during the ownership change. That includes head chef Clifton Cooper, who has been with the establishment for 20-plus years, and general manager Jeannette Garneau.
“You don’t see that tenure in restaurants,” said Iraci. “The staff that Michael had is extremely good. We’re going to get out of their way.”
The couple plan to alternate their weekends between their home in Staten Island, N.Y., and Manchester, with one of them helping out at the restaurant wherever they are needed.
Their son, Andrew, who received a two-week operational training course from Brandt and Garneau, plans on being in Manchester full time as acting host, while their daughter, Olivia, will be helping with media, marketing and communications.
Given the name of the tavern and the history of the property, the Iracis will continue to serve American fare, keeping staples like Yankee pot roast, crispy duck and tom turkey on the menu.
Cooper would like to expand on the success of the restaurants venison dishes by testing out plates of elk and other wild game.
“We’re also thinking about introducing new items through the daily specials,” said Iraci.
A history enthusiast, Iraci can attest that Ye Olde Tavern isn’t just about the food. For him, part of the appeal of the property is its rich history.
The southern section of the building dates back to 1790, giving the restaurant the impressive distinction as being the oldest operating tavern in Vermont. In 2020, it was listed on the Vermont Register of Historic Places.
“This place is part of American history,” Iraci said. “We are the caretakers. How do we preserve this for the next generations?”
For now, the Iracis are focusing on a smooth transition from previous owner to new. But as Iraci walked around the historic building and barns, his passion to keep history alive had him wondering aloud on how he could share some of the unused space with the community.
For more information about Ye Olde Tavern’s operating hours or to see a menu, visit yeoldetavern.net.