The Avocado Pit eyes Nov. opening

New restaurant would open in ex-Cilantro's space

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BENNINGTON — The Avocado Pit, a new fast-casual restaurant slated to occupy the South Street space vacated by Cilantro over the summer, plans to open in early November, according to one of its owners.

Matt Willey, who also owns Ramunto's Pizza, said the new establishment will feature a menu similar to that of the building's previous tenant, which offered tacos, burritos, burrito bowls and salads.

"We're not changing much," said Willey, whose partners in the venture include Corey Mears, of Manchester; Carson Thurber, of Bennington; and Richard Craft, who manages Ramunto's and will serve as The Avocado Pit's owner-operator. Willey and Mears several years ago partnered to purchase Ramunto's, the Banner reported at the time.

Cilantro abruptly closed in August. Its owner, Cassidy Warren, told the Banner that he's "just not a two-restaurant owner" and wanted to focus on the restaurant's Manchester location, which remains open.

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Willey said that Warren, a friend of one of his business partners, has shared certain recipes and left the building in "great shape."

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"I've invested in this town so much, and I just kind of want to see it keep going in the right direction," Willey said of his motivation for the new enterprise, adding that, with the nearby Putnam Block project advancing, "the [fewer] vacant buildings, the better."

Bennington currently offers scant options for Mexican food, Willey noted.

The Avocado Pit eventually will serve beer and margaritas, Willey said. Like Cilantro, it will offer vegan options.

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The business now is "hiring for all positions," according to an Oct. 4 Facebook post.

The town's Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved the business' proposed signage, which will hang above the entrance and from an existing signpost in front of the building.

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