We arrived to this wonderful valley almost three years ago with bright eyes and big dreams. For the most part we have realized them and so much more. We have met people who define the term “salt of the earth” and have been treated like family. That is why it is so hard to write these words: After Sunday’s, July 22, dinner service we will be closing the restaurant indefinitely.
The inn will remain open, as will our tavern on weekend evenings, and we will continue to serve breakfast every Saturday and Sunday from 8 to 11am. Please stop by for a drink on the deck before a dinner out or for breakfast anytime.
When we arrived to town in 2009, we chose Wilmington primarily to raise our son Lewie in a wholesome land surrounded by genuinely good neighbors. Secondarily, and in line with our belief that this was a special place, we followed through on our dream to buy food direct from the farm and serve the freshest and finest food in our restaurant. We did that. Yet, as successful as we were at producing amazing food and forging fantastic farm-partnerships we were not successful enough to sustain a business capable of supporting our beloved staff. Ultimately, the restaurant is too small and the market for our food too small to support our restaurant. We aren’t the first restaurant to close in this valley and we won’t be the last, though it is especially painful to us that it has been in nearly continuous operation for 40-plus years and it is closing on our watch. Yet let it be known that we will reopen the restaurant when economic conditions invite us to; that is a promise.
We have always believed in supporting our neighbors and in buying local food. As we shutter, pun intended, our doors, we are forced to acknowledge that no less than 20 farms are losing a steady source of business. If we had one parting request to ask of you, it is that you become better aware of the source of your food and wherever possible support clean/natural food from local farms. Cheap food is, in fact, quite expensive because it is mass produced for one purpose: to be plentiful. To that end, produce is increasingly genetically modified to not die when soaked in pesticides and meat is riddled with hidden hormones and antibiotics. It looks pink and beautiful in cellophane but it is not natural and yet we all live in the most natural place in America surrounded by farmers who grow clean food the way their family always has.
This is why Vermont agriculture remains an American treasure while subsidized Iowan farmers mass produce funky corn to sweeten soda. Fortunately there is no shortage of local foods: Sandy of Blue Mountain Produce is back and better than ever and you’ve got some new farms (Relly Bub Farm, Hawks Flight, and Wellman) to go along with some of the best farms anywhere: Adams, Boyd, Look & Lundsted, Sleeping Dog, Sunshine Hill, Wheeler, and so many more, right in your own backyard.
When you spend $1 at Boyd’s farm, that $1 stays in the valley. When you spend $1 at Shaw’s, about 2 cents stays in the valley in the form of salaries to employees, 3 cents goes to Shaws corporate, and 95 cents goes out of state to food factories. Therefore you make a decision to support your local farms, or not, every time you shop at Blue Mountain or Shaw’s. In these times most of us don’t have the money to spend extra on food.
We understand that and are not asking anyone to spend more than they can afford, we only ask that you recognize the good food around you and wherever possible, support your neighbors and their great businesses that grow/raise/sell it.
This is a tough valley on would-be restaurateurs, but there are good chefs and good owners a’plenty. It is this fact alone that gives us some small amount of comfort that we have not let you down. And special regrets and apologies to our staff, above all Charlotte, Chip, Ed, Erica, Bob, Izzy, Nathan, and, of course, our crazy aunt Robin, as well as to those of you who have enjoyed the restaurant over the years; your support has meant so much to us. We will especially miss your company as we now go about the simple business of innkeeping.
John and Rachel Pilcher
The Wilmington Inn & Tavern