Meet the chef: Sarah Wisell from Hatch 31 in Bristol

BRISTOL — Thirty-one Main Street in Bristol has seen its fair share of turnover. Most recently it was ND’s Bar, before that, Dan’s Place, Reggie’s and No-Knee’s. Now it’s Hatch 31.
Sisters Sarah and Kayla Wisell, and their cousin Roberta Sinnock opened Hatch 31’s doors two years ago this May with the help of their father/uncle Matt Wisell. They spent the first month renovating the place.
“We painted the walls and ceiling, installed the wood half-wall, and Dad helped with the new lighting and fans,” Sarah explained during an interview last week. “Behind the bar is pretty much the same… we want to renovate that soon.
“By the time we opened the doors a month later, people were excited to see what we’d done,” Sarah said. “It’s still a bar, but the idea was to make it more family friendly.”
The space isn’t huge, but it maximizes its function with a raised stage for live music, a comfy bar, five or six tables, high and low chairs, and a pool table tucked in the back corner with the fish tank. In the summer, a garage door on the front wall opens to let in the fresh air — in the colder months it’s a great source of light and perfect for people-watching.
On any given night, Roberta and Kayla will be behind the bar and Sarah is tucked back in the small kitchen making the food.
“The more people learn about the food here, the more they come,” said the Lincoln chef. “We keep dinnertime feeling like dinnertime… It isn’t fancy — we still serve food in baskets —but we do our best to have locally sourced, high quality food.”
The menu: classic bar food — done well. Wings, quesadillas, salads, burgers, homemade veggie burgers and salsa, and the local favorite hand-cut fries are all staples. Sarah hopes to add a few new things to the menu soon.
She sources her food from Black River Produce, local farm stands and their summer farm share from New Leaf Organics in Monkton.
Sarah graduated from Mount Abe Union High School in 2009 and went straight into food service. Sinnock hooked her up with a gig at A&W in Middlebury. After four or five years of cooking for A&W she moved on to cooking short-order breakfasts at Bristol Bakery. She also snuck a few years in cooking at Sugarbush Resort.
“I’m self-taught, I guess,” Sarah said. “The people who I worked with were very helpful.” Cooking classes might be on the horizon, but for now, the nightly routine of running the Bristol bar is keeping her busy.
For St. Patrick’s Day Sarah made a special Ruben with corned beef from Green Pasture Meats in New Haven, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and homemade 1,000 Island dressing on Klinger’s rye bread. She made a stout gravy for the fries. Wash it down with one of Kayla’s Guinness milkshakes.
“It’s fun working for yourself because you can do what you want,” said Sarah. “But we all participate in creating and inspiring new ideas… Even though I am the one that came into this business with the passion for food, we all have a hand in the production of menu items. Roberta, Kayla and even my dad have really grown a passion for food too.”
Check out Hatch 31’s Facebook page to see who’s coming to their stage next.

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