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“It’s very humbling to be part of this community,” Sam Gulisano said in the parking lot of the blue building that helps anchor Bridge Street in Waitsfield.
The building was severely damaged during Tropical Storm Irene and Sam’s son Jason’s restaurant that was in the building, The Green Cup, was destroyed. The brick sidewalk that Sam and Jason had built in front of the building was destroyed and the garden patio behind the restaurant was swept away.
One tenant of the building, Liz Lovely’s retail sweet shop, was destroyed before it opened, and Cheap Thrills thrift shop was destroyed.
“It would have been easier to give it back to the bank. My son Jason took a real emotional hit. He lost his business. But we live here. We live upstairs. The outpouring of support from the community the next day was incredible. Hundreds of people showed up here to help. It says a lot about the community, but we still didn’t know if we could pull it off. It’s an old building. The foundation was part plywood,” Sam Gulisano said.
They have pulled it off though. There’s a new foundation and several new businesses including The Sweet Spot and Scouts Honor Ice Cream, The Green Closet and the soon-to-open Peasant Restaurant. And it’s still a family affair. Sam and his wife Barbra’s daughter, Lisa Curtis, owns and operates The Sweet Spot, a bakery and coffee shop, and the husband of their daughter Sarina, John Vitko, is the ice cream maker.
Their new restaurant tenant, Chris Alberti, is a former New York stock trader turned vintner and sous chef for Jason at The Green Cup. His new restaurant, featuring simple Italian fare as well as wines he makes, will be served at the newly refurbished restaurant when it opens this month. The back room of the restaurant features a gorgeous new bar. The front room is painted in vibrant colors and Alberti is a consummate host, proffering samples of his award-winning wines and food.
His operation is also a family affair. He will be joined by his wife Mary Ellen and several of their five children in running the restaurant.
Elsewhere on Bridge Street, the rebuilding is nearing completion, with the exception of the Birke Photography Studio. The Birke Photography Studio, one of Waitsfield’s oldest buildings, was lifted off its foundation and left leaning against the blue building during the flood.
The driveway of All Things Bright and Beautiful as well as their gardens and foundation were swept away. MINT Restaurant was wrecked and the building that housed Lost and Found was inundated with water. Despite their flood insurance claim being denied, MINT owners Savitri Bhagavati and Iliyan Deskov, with the local support and volunteers, re-opened this spring. All Things Bright and Beautiful has a driveway, a foundation and beautiful gardens again. Quench Artspace has opened up where Lost and Found used to be. The Birke Photography Building was dismantled and removed from the foundation. Today lawn chairs sit on the foundation facing the river.