VR: Sage opened in mid-January with your other restaurant, The Hyde Away in full swing. Running two restaurants in The Valley during a great ski season – how’d that go?
AD: It’s been a whirlwind. With three months of operations at Sage under our belt, the winter has been both giving and trying. We’ve definitely stretched everyone very thin and learned some great lessons in operating two establishments.
VR: What have you learned?
AD: First, we’ve learned that we can’t run everyone at 60 to 80 hours per week. That’s why we made the hard decision to close the Hyde Away on Wednesdays during mud season. That was not an easy decision, but we needed to give everyone room to breathe. We’ve also had some hits and we’ve had some misses with the startup. Overall great support, but we’ve heard some feedback leading us to make some changes for the summer. For one, we’re changing our staffing structure. Executive chef Chris Harmon will continue to oversee the operation, but we are bringing in a new chef de cuisine at Sage. We think the new team under chef Chris’ guidance will be able to further develop our menu and deliver excellent execution.
VR: Tell us more about the menu changes.
AD: Some of the changes are just what you’d expect moving from winter to summer fare. Lighter dishes, more local ingredients. Overall, we’re going to give greater focus to our micro plate selection, encouraging more trial of tapas-style portions. Lighter and smaller plates to share and a new bistro menu available only at the bar and lounge. Our bar is phenomenal and we want folks to come in and enjoy a cocktail and have available a light tasting fare to accompany without committing to an entire multicourse dinner. In addition to the food menu, we will also be evolving our cocktail menu and, importantly, our coffee menu. Did you know Sage has an espresso machine? One of the few in The Valley, we’re working on developing a more robust coffee offering, beyond our current espresso and cappuccinos. Our hope is that you come in and enjoy our space in a way that fits you best – a full dinner, a light snack and a cocktail, a dessert and coffee concoction. There is something for everyone.
VR: Sage is participating in Vermont Restaurant Week. What’s on the menu for that?
AD: Sage will be participating in Restaurant Week April 26 through May 5. This means three courses from a selection of items on a prix fixe $40 price. A portion of all food proceeds benefit the Vermont Foodbank. After Restaurant Week, Sage will close to start working on our summer presence, both inside and out. Sage will be closed May 6 through May 29, reopening on Thursday, May 30.
VR: What will be seen when you reopen?
AD: Well, we are opening our event room this May. The room can hold 30 to 40 people, so we are open for rehearsal dinners, corporate dinners, reunions, or whatever event has you wanting for a great space with great food. The head-turner I think will be the opening of the deck for outdoor dining and the landscaping transforming the corner. We’re working on the building and the grounds with Broadleaf Landscape Design and Appalachian Landscaping, the team responsible for the Hyde Away grounds revitalization. The building will be getting fresh paint and some needed maintenance, as will the parking lot. Expect color and function in the landscape as we work to really up the curb appeal. Add to that a colorful deck for dining at Sage and the ground is set to showcase a thriving corner in our community. Also, the carpaccio on the Restaurant Week menu has been so well received, it will definitely have a permanent home on our summer menu.