A Bun Bakery by Day, Italian Restaurant by Night: A Local Couple to Reinvent The Lobby

By SADIE HOUSBERG

Caroline (left) and Matt Corrente ’06 will bring their culinary talents to the former home of The Lobby.

The Lobby, a family weekend go-to and popular date night restaurant at 7 Bakery Lane, closed last month. Stepping up to the plate with a new culinary undertaking are Matt Corrente ’06, previous head chef of Two Brothers Tavern, and Caroline Corrente, current owner of Haymaker Bun Co., located in Middlebury.

Amidst a buzz of construction and activity, Matt and Caroline confirmed plans to take over the riverside property and open a shared restaurant and café – The Arcadian and Haymaker Bun Co. The building is currently being revamped to make way for the combined Italian restaurant, pastry and espresso shop, which will open in early November.

“I think it’s going to be interesting because we’re basically running two separate businesses out of the same location,” Caroline said. 

“So I will be running a bakery and café in the morning and Matt will be running a restaurant at night,” she said. “It’s a unique concept and we’re really focused on creating a comfortable space.”

 Matt and Caroline both have a grounding and significant knowledge of Vermont, Middlebury and the food industry in general. Matt is a Middlebury College alumnus and Caroline graduated from the University of Vermont.

The two were employed in various roles at restaurants throughout their time in college and even met while working at Pistou, a now-closed restaurant in Burlington. Most recently, Matt worked as the head chef at Two Brothers Tavern while Caroline worked as a pastry chef at Otter Creek Bakery before opening her own business, Haymaker Bun Co., a little over a year ago.

 “I really liked the version of this place that was around when I was a student,” said Matt, reminiscing about the restaurant that filled 7 Bakery Lane during his days at the college. “It was like the place to go; it was where I’d take my parents if they came up for a visit.”

So when the couple saw that The Lobby was on the market, they leapt at the chance to create a restaurant and a space of their own.

 “It’s a big project but we’re really excited to be bringing something new and exciting to the community,” Matt said about the coming restaurants. “We’re happy to be a part of the upswing. It’s a lot of work and it’s daunting at times but we’re pretty optimistic about the end result.”

Caroline, who went to pastry school in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu, will employ her baking expertise to serve a daily rotation of buns and other sweet and savory treats in the mornings.

 “Pastry-wise, I’ll always have a couple different rotating sweet, chocolate, savory brioche buns that I’ve been doing, as well as some gluten free options,” she said. The savory buns will have the option of an egg served on top, she said, making a delicious breakfast sandwich. Additionally, Haymaker Bun provides free delivery within Middlebury, with a minimum of six buns per order. The couple will work with Brio Coffeeworks, a coffee company based out of Burlington, to craft specialty espresso drinks.

A preview of Haymaker Bun Co.’s offerings.

“It’ll be fun to just come in here and always be able to get something new and something different with some classics in there as well,” she said. Matt and Caroline hope to cater to various needs of college students and community members — whether that means sitting by the river with a morning bun or sipping a latte while getting some work done.

Matt will draw from his culinary background at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City as well as his years as a chef and sous-chef at multiple Vermont restaurants in order to construct The Arcadian’s menu.

 “For dinner the menu is going to follow a traditional Italian menu design,” Matt said. He plans to feature antipasti, a selection of nine handmade pasta dishes and five to six entrée plates emphasizing fresh seafood and Vermont ingredients. The Arcadian will also serve wine and cocktails at the bar in the evenings.

 “Part of the spirit of the place is to say that in Italy the cuisine is driven by tradition,” he elaborated. “There are a lot of [ingredients] that are hugely seasonal and are impacted by what’s available and what’s fresh at the moment and so our outlook is to really do that with Vermont. To say […] how do we highlight it in a simple way that’s going to let people really enjoy it.”

 “Arcadia, from antiquity, was a place where humans existed in harmony with nature,” Matt said, describing the name. During the renaissance period, the ancient region of Greece called Arcadia was celebrated for this peaceful relationship, he explained. “It was sort of like the step that preceded technology and big cities and it’s a metaphor for our life here in Middlebury.”

 Matt and Caroline are both hopeful and enthusiastic about the opening of the restaurants despite the abundance of downtown business closures in the past months.

 “I think that it’s going to look worse and get worse before it gets better,” said Matt, “but I’m more focused on the ‘it’s going to get better’ part.”

Caroline echoed this optimism.

 “I think that with our location here—and we definitely thought about that a lot moving in—we feel like we’re going to be a little bit immune to [the rail bridge construction] just because even if Main St. closes all the way down we’ll still have the Cross St. entrance and traffic will have to be funneled that way,” she said.

The couple, however, emphasized the importance of community and student-wide support of local businesses and restaurants, especially through the temporary period of construction. “I think that it’s important for us — even if you have to park a little bit further, walk a little bit further — to continue to visit downtown, to be patrons of the businesses here,” Caroline said.

 Matt said, of his time as a student at the college, that he recognizes how tough it can be to get off campus and take advantage of the town and surrounding areas. The couple highlighted a desire to help bridge the gap and facilitate more student crossover into town and involvement in the greater community.

 “It’d be wonderful to see a town -wide effort to support local businesses through the transition,” he said, “but also having a student aspect to that would be really cool. Just to feel like the support extended all the way out.”

While some may be disappointed to say goodbye to The Lobby and half-priced burger nights, it seems The Arcadian and Haymaker Bun Co. have a lot to offer.

“Although I was sad to see the The Lobby close, I’m excited to have a new restaurant in town,” Charlie Diprinzio ’21 said, of the coming changes. “Both of the new places sound really creative and interesting, and I can’t wait to try them.”

Diprinzio, who is an executive manager of Dolci, the student run fine-dining service on campus, believes that having an Italian restaurant and a new coffee shop in town will make a great addition to the food scene.

Matt and Caroline are welcoming everyone — students included — to apply for available positions.

 “I love working with Middlebury College students. I had awesome help at Two Bros from people on campus and a good attitude and a good work ethic is really all that gets you in the front door,” said Matt.

 The two are looking forward to spreading the joy of “simple life and simple food” with their food and drink in the coming months. Tuesday through Saturday, Haymaker Bun will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and The Arcadian will be open for dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. 

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