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Jericho couple takes over Marble Works deli

MIDDLEBURY — Noonie Deli’s “Purple’s Pleasure” and “Vermonter” sandwiches still taste and look the same, but they’re now being made under new ownership.
Late last month, the owners of the Marble Works deli, Brian and Jenny Phelps, sold the business to Jericho couple Jay Lafountain and Lauren Barland.
Lafountain and Barland officially purchased the deli July 25. Since then, they have been hard at work getting to know the staff, customers and the popular menu of sandwiches with names like “Tyrion Lannister” and “Delia’s Delight.”
“Being from the south, I believe in hospitality,” said Barland, a native of Warrenton, Va. “So it’s very important to me to get to know everyone in this community.
The couple praised the former owners for creating a strong bond with their customers and the community.”
“Brian and Jenny, the former owners, are so deeply rooted in this community and are on a lot of the boards and committees, and I think that says something,” Barland said.
Though customers might notice some fresher faces behind the counter, Lafountain and Barland stressed that they have no intention of implementing major changes to the deli, though they hope to improve efficiency both at the front and back of the house. Customers might notice some new specials and different ingredients, but the menu of sandwiches will remain the same.
“We’re not looking to make huge drastic changes,” Lafountain said. “What works here, works. We’re just looking to add to that.”
Lafountain added that the couple plans to boost the deli’s social media presence.
Despite Lafountain and Barland’s interest in keeping the deli traditions alive, there is one small change that regulars might notice sometime in the future — the name. They noticed that most people in town referred to it as “Noonie’s” rather than the Noonie Deli, and are entertaining the idea of changing the name to reflect the popular nickname.
“We owe it to the locals— everyone calls it Noonie’s, even though legally it’s called the Noonie Deli,” Lafountain said. “We actually want to change the name to Noonie’s Deli, but it’s in the think tank with 8 million other things.”
A DISTINCT OPPORTUNITY
Noonie Deli began in 1986 as a food cart on Church Street in Burlington, and then expanded to a permanent location in Middlebury in the early 1990s. Though the food cart has now since been discontinued, Lafountain bought sandwiches from the cart as a child, and so was already familiar with the franchise when he and Barland saw the business listed for sale this summer.
Lafountain and Barland, who previously worked at the Vermont Tap House in Williston, said they had been searching for a more self-driven career opportunity, and so jumped at the chance of taking up the reins at the Noonie Deli. The fact that the deli is so wellestablished in the community was an extra bonus.
“It’s been busy, having to learn policies, menu, ordering, vendors, answering questions and phone calls,” Lafountain said. “But rewarding. At the end of the day when you step back and look at it, this is a successful, established community business that we no more or less co-own with our employees and the community, and this isn’t something that can solely belong to one person.”
Lafountain and Barland, who are in their first weeks of ownership, said the transition process was intense as one might expect. In fact, they estimate that they each worked 110 hours within the first eight days.
“The week has been a good learning experience,” Barland continued. “Pretty much anything I could run into in a typical week, I ran into in a span of three days.”
Barland also noted that though management has changed hands, the deli’s eight staff members are still hard at work.
“The girls are flipping sandwiches in seconds, they’re amazing,” she said. “I give them so much credit, they’ve been so wonderful.”
She said she’s also getting the hang of the menu.
“Now I’m ringing them out, I’m like, ‘OK, that’s a Purple’s Pleasure,’” Barland said. “I’m recognizing them more.”
For now the couple is content to keep their home in Jericho and doesn’t plan to relocate to Addison County, though they said they would entertain the idea if circumstances change.
Despite the challenges of getting acclimated to a new business, Lafountain and Barland say they are excited for the journey ahead.
“It gave us the opportunity to do it for ourselves,” Lafountain said. “To work in Middlebury with the falls right there and how great of a community this place is, it was kind of a no-brainer for us.”

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