The Skinny Pancake will not reopen its Hanover location

by Allison Wachen | 6/4/20 10:35pm

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by Tiffany Zhai / The Dartmouth

The Skinny Pancake, a popular Vermont creperie, has permanently closed the doors of its Hanover location, the restaurant announced via Facebook this afternoon.

Director of marketing and brand for The Skinny Pancake Michael Cyr said that last year, the restaurant made a decision not to renew its current lease — which ends in December — due to concerns that the space was too large, especially as compared to its other locations.

He said that the Hanover location, which opened in 2016, was bringing in a “healthy revenue” but “not enough” to justify the rent.

The Skinny Pancake’s announcement marks the latest in a string of recent closures in Hanover. Salt Hill Pub announced the closure of its Hanover location on Tuesday, and Swirl and Pearl and Noodle Station will also be shutting down, according to Hanover town manager Julia Griffin. The restaurants join Morano Gelato and the King Arthur Flour cafe in Baker-Berry Library, which both closed last month. 

Griffin explained that for the “restaurants who are already a little soft in terms of their financial situation, COVID-19 was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.” 

The Skinny Pancake’s management had been exploring smaller Hanover locations, but concluded that they would not be able to find one by the end of the year due to challenges in searching for real estate during the pandemic. 

While the restaurant’s initial decision to relocate was unrelated to COVID-19, Cyr said that the uncertainty from the pandemic — which led to the closing of Morano Gelato and Salt Hill Pub — gave The Skinny Pancake the “last push” they needed to “justify” closing.

Cyr added in an email that the restaurant has been closed since April due to COVID-19, and that reopening would be “quite a lift in terms of bringing back staff, repairs and maintenance, food ordering, etc. — all in the face of uncertain revenues and an eventual closing coming at the end of the year.” The restaurant therefore made the decision to remain closed.

Alex Sasse ’20 said that The Skinny Pancake’s “really strong community feel” made it a unique spot for Dartmouth students and Upper Valley community members.

“You go in there and feel warm and welcome. [It was] one of those establishments that I was always really happy to go to,” Sasse said, adding that she frequented the restaurant during every finals period to drink chai tea lattes and write her final papers in the restaurant’s quieter off-hours. 

“The economics of Dartmouth not being in session” was a secondary reason for the restaurant’s closure, according to Cyr. 

He noted that the Hanover location has a full-service dining model, whereas all other The Skinny Pancake locations — including Burlington, Montpelier and Quechee, Vermont — offer a fast-casual model.

The Hanover restaurant is currently the chain’s only location outside of Vermont, though the company is considering expanding to other states. Cyr said that in New Hampshire, for a restaurant to have a full bar, they must provide full-service dining. While the company “loved Hanover and that location,” Cyr said that they decided against renewing the lease because the full-service dining model was “not how the restaurant had been historically run.”

Griffin said that The Skinny Pancake faced challenges because of its “tough physical location” — tucked away on Lebanon Street — which Griffin said made it difficult for the restaurant to generate foot traffic. She added that The Skinny Pancake had to spend “an extraordinary amount of money converting the space into a restaurant [from a retail store]” when the location opened five years ago.

The Skinny Pancake also arrived in Hanover when Dartmouth Dining Services was “ramping up its dining options and dining plans,” Griffin said, which decreased the number of students eating off campus. 

Juanita Morales ’21 said that she is “very sad” about The Skinny Pancake’s closure. She said that it was her favorite off-campus joint, adding that she’ll particularly miss its trivia nights, the “nice atmosphere,” kind staff, “reasonable prices” and delicious food.

Sasse said that one of her favorite aspects of the restaurant was the string band karaoke nights every other Wednesday. She added that she’d attended various sorority formals at The Skinny Pancake, and that she’d enjoyed the “great food” and “good dance floor atmosphere.”

Cyr noted that The Skinny Pancake is “still committed to the Upper Valley,” and he encouraged students to visit the Quechee location, which is currently open for pick-up and delivery orders. He said that the restaurant’s “fast-casual model” is “even more student-friendly” than the Hanover joint.

“You can park yourself there, do some work with a laptop [and] order a meal to go quickly,” he said.

Morales said that the restaurant’s crepes are “a product that no one else has in the area” and added that she would still like to go to the Quechee location with her friends who have cars, but likely not as often as the Hanover restaurant.

Cyr said that, in the future, “[i]f the right opportunity came along, [The Skinny Pancake] would consider reopening in Hanover.” However, he noted that the company is not currently pursuing options to revive the location.

Sasse noted that it has been difficult to see popular restaurants closing from a student perspective.

“It is sad to see these staples disappear when some of the best experiences from the last four years have been defined by restaurants and their gathering places for friends,” she said.

Sasse acknowledged that Hanover will “look very different” when she comes back as an alumna, adding that, “businesses will come and go, economies shift and we are going to have new options when the economy finally picks back up.”

None of the other The Skinny Pancake locations are set to relocate or permanently close due to COVID-19. The chain is scheduled to open a new location in Stowe, Vermont at the end of June, according to Cyr. He added that the company explored opening a new location in Hudson Valley, New York, but said that COVID-19 has put this option on pause.

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