Tully and Marie’s sold to Cornwall family
MIDDLEBURY — Tully & Marie’s will reopen on May 1 with new owners who will soon give the downtown Middlebury restaurant a new menu and a new name.
Cornwall residents Craig Goldstein and Chris English early this week officially acquired Tully & Marie’s at 7 Bakery Lane from previous owners Laurie Reed and Carolyn Dundon. Plans call for them to make some minor renovations to the building and reopen as Tully & Marie’s on May 1, then transition to a new menu and moniker — “Jackson’s on the River” — on June 1.
“We hope to be an important part of the area,” Goldstein said of the venture. “We are committed to Middlebury and Addison County.”
Goldstein, English and their families first discussed the prospect of jointly acquiring Tully & Marie’s a few months ago — appropriately over dinner.
Craig Goldstein and his wife, Jackie Rose, came to Vermont almost three years ago from southern Florida when Rose was named the new executive director of the Addison County Humane Society. They had previously owned and operated several restaurants throughout the country. Goldstein, a classically trained chef, had been looking for a local venue through which to showcase his culinary talents. In the meantime, he has been working as a manager at City Market in Burlington.
“I always had the idea that I was going to open (a restaurant) in Vermont,” Goldstein said. “We fell in love with Middlebury and knew this is where we wanted to open a business; I wanted to live close to where I worked.”
Chris English and his wife, Susan, moved from New Jersey to Cornwall in 2006. Susan took a teaching position at Weybridge Elementary School while Chris, a former manager with AT&T, took an office position with Middlebury’s Ilsley Library while looking for a new venture.
“My goal has always been to find my own business that was local, closely tied to the community and that was personally meaningful to me and fun to do,” English said. “I’ve always had a passion for food — I have been cooking for family and friends for over 20 years.”
At the same time, English realized he would be hard-pressed as a self-described “enthusiastic amateur cook” to operate a restaurant as a solo venture. But with Goldstein taking center stage in the kitchen, English felt emboldened to take on the challenge of co-restaurateur.
“Craig and I enjoy a lot of synergies, in personality and skill-set,” English said. “We’re very compatible in terms of what we hope to accomplish.”
What they hope to accomplish is a comfy, unpretentious restaurant serving “comfort food with a flair,” ranging from salads and “build-your-own burgers” to more adventurous fare, such as pork schnitzel with smoky wild mushroom demi-glace.
They promised a full menu that will include a variety of appetizers, fish, poultry, steaks, vegetarian dishes, sandwiches and delectable desserts — with prices topping out at $15.
“We want to take comfort food and bring it into the 21st century,” Goldstein said.
He stressed plans will include giving back to the community once the new venture gets on a firm footing.
“That is really a driving force of why we’re here,” Goldstein said.
The restaurant closed on April 19 for some minor renovations — including a new interior paint job — and is set to reopen May 1, still as Tully & Marie’s. Goldstein explained his and English’s desire to maintain the same name and menu during the month of May in deference to customers who made reservations with Tully & Marie’s in mind, many for Middlebury College’s graduation weekend.
But the new owners said they will change the name and menu effective June 1, while incorporating a few new dishes here and there in the meantime.
Asked about the significance of the name “Jackson’s on the River,” Goldstein smiled. The name is homage to his and Jackie’s two Springer spaniel dogs, Jackson and River. “River” is a particularly pertinent moniker given the restaurant’s close proximity to the Otter Creek.
“Excellent food in a very professional but relaxed service atmosphere,” Goldstein said in summing up the vibe he hopes customers will feel at the restaurant.
Plans call for Jackson’s on the River to be open seven days per week, for lunch and dinner and Sunday brunch. The restaurant will employ a staff of 20 full- and part-time workers, and current workers have been invited to stay on, according to Goldstein.
While Goldstein and English are opening a new chapter in the history of the Bakery Lane restaurant, Reed and Dundon are closing one. The building housed the Bakery Lane Soup Shop in the 1970s and included owners’ living quarters. The space was renovated during the early 1980s and became Woody’s Restaurant, which was purchased by Reed and Dundon in 2000. They renamed it Tully & Marie’s in April of 2001.
“Carolyn and I decided to sell Tully and Marie’s to pursue other interests,” Reed said in an e-mail. “A restaurant such as Tully’s requires seven days a week, full-time owner presence to operate properly. For us to move on to pursue other interests, it was necessary to let it go. The combination of the effects of recession and the severe negative impact of the (Cross Street) Bridge construction also added to our need to find a new owner that was able to spark continued interest in dining in the area. I believe the new owners have the ability, ideas, and motivation necessary to provide that spark.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]