PROCTORSVILLE, Vt. – Neal Baron opened his restaurant on Friday, Sept. 22, with a American comfort-food menu and a friendly staff that will all greet you with smiling faces.
Baron wanted to take his time opening his restaurant, easing into it, and “making sure the product is as good as we can get it,” he explained. He is dedicated to serving the foods that people enjoy, making sure to have enough of the popular dishes such as the fried chicken or the scallops. They’ve got plenty of other comfort foods that feel familiar including pulled pork, mac and cheese and beef brisket, and cheesecake or a warm chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
Neal’s takes pride in the quality of their products. Most of the foods are local Vermont products, such as the Boyden Farms fresh organic pasture-raised beef that Baron uses in his burgers. But it’s equally important that the quality of the food is the best it can be, meaning some things may be sourced elsewhere.
“A lot of research went into just the burger,” Baron explained, emphasizing the importance of the quality of flavor while also selling it at a good value.
Baron has worked in fine dining restaurants before, so he aims for approachability and accessibility. He has the “come as you are” ideals, with a comfortable and familiar feeling, while also being affordable for everyone without breaking the bank. He works hard to have quality foods at a great value, catering to the local working audiences.
Only open for about a week, the busiest night yet they did 97 dinners, which was a good stress test for the servers and kitchen staff. They are listening to their customers and learning what people desire when they walk in.
The beautifully remodeled location was ready to go with a wrap-around bar, now stocked with a small selection of white and red wines on draft, draft and bottled beers, and mixed and blended drinks. Flat screen TVs hang above the bar while a cozy fireplace is the feature off an adjacent wall. And a large window allows customers to view into the kitchen and watch their foods being made.
Baron made some minor changes to the interior, hanging acoustic panels to reduce the reverberation of noise after receiving some customer feedback. He also made some changes in the kitchen for the style of foods he prepared to serve.
This is the third location that he has helped launch and open, except this place is his own. “It is exciting for the staff and the public,” Baron says with a smile, “and there’s just this great energy to it.” He looks forward to the chaos and excitement, and also to figuring out what people like, and dislike, and catering to their needs.
At the end of the day, Baron wants “people to walk out the door looking forward to their next visit.” Neal’s is open from 3 – 8 p.m. Thursday through Monday, with an earlier opening at 1 p.m. on Sundays. Stop in and see for yourself what they have to offer. Check them out on Facebook, and watch out for their new website coming soon.