3 Squares Celebrates 10 Years!February 1, 2017
The restaurant business is hard with high turnover, low margins, fierce competition and many saying we’ve reached a bubble. How then can America's smallest city, Vergennes, Vermont, support such an incredible selection of restaurants and land at the top of a list of best small town food destinations? “We complement and collaborate, we don’t compete,” Matt Birong, owner of the landmark restaurant 3 Squares Café explained. A conscious choice was made by each restaurant in the three-block downtown to have a unique concept and support each other. “Ian [of Bar Antidote and Hired Hands Brewing] and I have menu meetings seasonally – just to make sure we aren’t overlapping” Matt shared. Both Bar Antidote and 3 Squares Café have impressive local sourcing and hold the prestigious VFN Gold Barn Honor.
The industry would be wise to take cues from Matt. 3 Squares Cafe celebrates 10 successful years in the business in 2017 – full of ups and downs including the economic collapse of 2008. Matt wanted to build a community-focused business that was flexible, steering away from his background as a fine dining chef, with a menu not tied to a certain style and didn’t have him stuck in the kitchen into the wee hours. 3 Squares is open for dinner, but their rush is during breakfast and lunch where they churn out classics and specialties inspired by global cuisine – from Lebanese to afro-Caribbean.
Matt has a self-professed infatuation with Latin culture, it’s lead him to invest in a sustainable Cacao Farm project in the Dominican Republic that works towards reforestation and bird habitat preservation. Matt brings the cacao up to Vermont to produce single origin bean-to-bar chocolate out of the restaurant kitchen. “The chocolate is a main focus of mine now,” he shared, “I have an amazing, capable crew running the restaurant, and I can play with the chocolate.” The Latin theme runs throughout the café as well – 3 Squares runs a Taqueria Menu three nights each week and features Vermont producers in a spicier style. When pressed to recommend a particular dish, Matt named the tostadas as a personal favorite. Featuring Vermont Tortilla Company corn tortillas (Matt’s a huge fan), Champlain Valley Creamery Queso Fresco, chorizo made from local pork (when the kitchen takes in whole hogs) or guajillo pulled chicken on the lunch version, Matt uses the dish to showcase Vermont ingredients. “I like to highlight food simply for what it is – not re-represent it. [In the past 10 years] I’ve been excited to see the diversity of Vermont products grow and the meat industry take off. All the obscure varietals and lost breeds that are now available make it easy to take a new approach to any old classic.”
Stop by 3 Squares Café now until February 9th to say “Happy Birthday!” and celebrate with 10% food and N/A drinks.