Skinny Pancake to open creperie in Hanover

by Daniel Kim | 1/12/16 7:38pm

Burlington, Vermont-based creperie Skinny Pancake will be opening its first out-of-state location in Hanover, replacing the space previously occupied by Essentials for Men and the Chocolate Shop in the Hanover Park building on Lebanon Street. Owner Benjy Adler said that the scheduled date of the opening is April15.

Adler said that the restaurant tries to source most of its food from the local community. In their latest audit in Burlington last October, he said that 71.1 percent, by dollar, of the restaurant’s food, beverage, raw and value-added products were local. The restaurant also donates one percent of its revenue to environmental non-profit organizations.

“We’re looking to disprove the thesis that a chain is just an octopus sucking the energy and money out of a town,” he said. “We’re trying to use capitalism to invert this concept of the ‘leaky bucket.’ This is the idea that in a town or a community, if you spend money, the money gets shipped to a corporation, which goes farther and farther away. If we can divert the money we spend away from the global economy and keep it local, every time we can, we look for ways to do that.”

A possible consideration for the restaurant is a crowd-funding campaign, where those who donate to support the opening of the Hanover location and would receive some sort of discount in exchange.

Started as a food cart in 2003 on Church Street in Burlington, Vt., Skinny Pancake continued to grow in the following years. It expanded from a food cart, to a sailboat trailer to a school bus, to rental apartment kitchens and to its first restaurant building opening in Burlington in 2007. The chain now consists of five locations including Montpelier, Burlington International Airport, Sugarbush Ski Resort and the University of Vermont.

Skinny Pancake is a mission-driven local food restaurant, with a goal to “change the world by building a safer, healthier and more delicious food shed while creating everyday enjoyment that is fun and affordable,” according to their website. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, the signature menu item being crepes.

“Crepe is a versatile product,” Adler said. “It’s like a tabula rasa; it’s a blank slate on which you paint colors or flavors. That could be cheese, chicken, chocolate or vegetables — it could be vegan or gluten free.”

Adler said that Hanover was selected as the first out-of-state location out of all the regions requesting a branch because of its parallels and proximity to Burlington.

“We were looking for ‘like-minded towns’ from Burlington,” he said.

Adler noted that Hanover and Burlington have similar demographics and are centered around a college and hospital center, creating a “safety net economically.”

He added that Skinny Pancake has a passion for supporting live music. As a music major at Middlebury College, he said music came naturally to him and his restaurant concept.

Adler said there are also plans to bring Burlington-based artists as well as other touring artists to the Hanover location, in addition to supporting Dartmouth and local musicians.

He compared the restaurant to a “portal,” where he will be able to leverage its connections to the Burlington music scene and beyond. When groups ask to book a show in the Vermont branches, Adler said, he will also be able to recommend that they play in the Hanover location.

Adler said that he is looking forward to the opening of the Hanover location to engage with and become a part of the community.

“If students are looking for a performance stage, interested in learning about how we operate, theory around local food, capitalism or anything else — it’s our responsibility and pleasure to engage, and when appropriate, educate,” he said.

Adler noted that other branches have done similar work with the University of Vermont and other nearby colleges, adding that he hoped that the Hanover location will integrate itself into the community.

Several interviewed students said they were looking forward to the opening. Emma Sisson ’17 said that she appreciates the addition of different culinary options.

“I think it’s always good to add more to the town,” she said. “I think for students who already eat out a lot, they’ll like more options, but I don’t think it’ll necessarily draw more students to Main Street if they’re not already eating there.”

Collis center staff member Ben Robbins said that campus dining may feel some competition from the new restaurant.

“I think it would be a good idea, but I’m not sure how Late Night’s going to feel about that — they sell all the crepes on campus,” he said.

Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin said that while it is not uncommon to see turnover in downtown retail space, she expects the vacant spaces in town to slowly begin filling up in the coming months.

Griffin noted that Skinny Pancake had been searching for a retail location in Hanover for the past three years.

Moving into the Hanover location will relatively straightforward for Skinny Pancake, as they only have to change their permit in order to convert the space from a clothing store and chocolate shop into a restaurant and kitchen, Griffin said.

Adler said the the restaurant is looking to explore opening options in Pioneer Valley and Hudson Valley in the future.

Correction:The original article stated the Skinny Pancake's food and ingredients were 77.1 percent local at last audit. It is actually 71.1 percent local. The article has been updated to reflect this change.