MIDDLEBURY — After reinventing the space and installing a prominent new bar, Rough Cut opened its doors last Saturday, Nov. 11, at 51 Main’s old site. The new space, adorned with brick walls, wooden trim and hanging light fixtures, provides a warm atmosphere and an amber glow.
After nine years of operation, the college sold 51 Main to Ben Wells, owner of the Marquis Theatre for the past three years. Wells noticed a lack of Southern comfort food in the area and has swept in to fix that. Wells has managed restaurants in Boston, Jackson, Wyoming, and Boulder, Colorado, and has now taken on the prominently featured space on Main Street.
Since taking on the Marquis, Wells has made a notable effort to make the theater an integral part of the community. He says that he hopes to do the same with Rough Cut.
“One of my philosophies with the restaurant is that the word ‘restaurant’ actually comes from the old French word ‘to restore,’” Wells said. “People enjoy going out and having a fun time in a positive, warm, energetic environment.”
Wells is hoping to reinvent the lower level of the restaurant, too. The College had used the downstairs for storage and office space, but Wells plans to eventually repurpose the space into a performance venue.
The team has been experimenting with different types of wood and spices for their selection of smoked barbecued meat. The restaurant also emphasizes its beers and bourbon cocktails. The bar features as many as 12 beers on tap and has created a batch of specialty cocktails.
As the restaurant establishes itself in the coming weeks, Wells intends to bring some more vitality to Main Street. “It’s really important to me — small town, small communities,” Wells said. “If we as community members and business owners aren’t involved, then who is?”