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November 30, 2012

New Eats in the South End?

SondikIf you obsessively follow local restaurant openings and closings, as we do, an ad such as this might set your heart aflutter:

Lake Champlain Chocolates is seeking a creative executive chef to participate in the development of a new rustic-Americana south end eatery...

Turns out, the ever-expanding chocolate company is planning to open an eatery inside the former Sondik Supply building at 716 Pine St., which the company purchased a year ago. But the details are still under wraps. "We have no time frame, but we're looking at integrating food and chocolate. That would be a no-brainer," says LCC director of retail operations Gary Coffey.

Since the purchase, Coffey says that LCC (whose main digs are at 750 Pine St.) has deliberated the building's fate. LCC opened a warehouse in Williston two years ago, and, he notes, "We've outgrown our space on so many levels." Yet LCC is far from having a concrete vision for the eatery, adds Coffey; for now, that ad  — rich with suggestion — will have to suffice. 

Meanwhile, farther north on Pine Street, the space formerly known as Cheese Outlet/Fresh Market is still on the leasing block, but has had "a ton of qualified interest," according to Tony Blake of V/T Commercial, the agent for the building. No one has signed on the dotted line yet, however, and Blake chalks this up to the slightly intimidating size of the space: 4800 square feet. "Any type of reasonable proposal from a qualified operator would be considered," he adds. He doesn't expect it to be vacant long.

Nearly 5000 square feet wasn't quite enough for City Market, however, which checked the place out for a possible South End satellite — but decided to nix it from its list of options, according to member services director Allison Weinhagen, because of parking limitations and other particulars. Though City Market has looked at spots throughout the neighborhood, it has yet to find a "suitable space," she says, which could delay the market's plans. "We assumed the second, larger store would be next, but we might pursue a location in Winooski or the Old North End," she says, if an ideal South End space remains elusive. 

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