Love — for food, for Middlebury and for each other — abounds in Middlebury restaurants. Whether nestled in an alcove by Bakery Lane or settled across from the railroad tracks on Seymour Street, business owners find joy in serving the Middlebury community alongside their favorite people.
Some businesses, such as Royal Oak Coffee, started with an incredible (and apropos) meet-cute. “We met at a coffee shop in Connecticut nearly a decade ago,” says Alessandra Delia-Lôbo, co-owner of Royal Oak Coffee. “It was an open mic night and I was performing. I saw Matt behind the counter and asked for his number!”
Matt and Alessandra, now married, opened Royal Oak Coffee almost a year ago, and serve a small menu of artisan coffee out of a space on Seymour Street. This fall, Recently, they opened a second location, Lost Monarch, to cater to college students.
“Our plan was always to open and run a coffee shop together, so it's been a dream come true,” said Matt and Alessandra in an email to The Campus. “We're really glad to be able to spend time together.” Before opening Lost Monarch, Matt and Alessandra would often serve coffee together. Since they opened their second location, Matt has mainly worked at Lost Monarch and Alessandra has focused on Royal Oak.
For others, it was Middlebury College and the town that brought them together.
“My mom and dad were both Middlebury grads. My dad was class of ’69, and my mom was class of ’72,” said Paris Rinder-Goddard, the current owner and manager of Fire and Ice Restaurant. “They both stuck around in Middlebury after graduation and both ended up working in area restaurants, Dog Team Tavern and Mister Ups.”
After partnering with Middlebury resident Adele Peirce, Rinder-Goddard’s parents opened Fire and Ice in 1974. Fire and Ice serves local- and regionally-sourced food amidst a collection of antiques, artworks and other memorabilia.
“Like many people, they dreamed of opening their own place,” said Rinder-Goddard of his parents. “Back then, it was a pretty small bar with live music.”
It was also this mutual love of food — and making it — that brought Caroline and Matt Corrente '06 together to create The Arcardian and Haymaker Bun Company.
“We met at Pistou restaurant in Burlington,” Matt Corrente said. “I was cooking and Caroline was a server. True to form, the only way to meet someone in the restaurant business is to work with them.”
Matt Corrente said that, at Pistou, the couple learned that they work really well together — both professionally and as a couple.
“We knew it would work, so we got married,” he said. “After a few moves and a quick stint in the nonprofit sector for Caroline followed by pastry school in Paris, we pretty much settled on the idea of doing our own thing some day.”
The Arcadian and Haymaker Bun Company opened in the fall of 2018. The space at 7 Bakery Lane hosts both a parisian-style bakery and a fine-dining Italian restaurant experience. In the mornings, Caroline takes over with the Haymaker Bun Company, a metropolitan-style cafe with coffees and pastries. At night, Matt takes over with The Arcadian, serving home-made pastas and fresh seafood.
Working in this type of setting, however, is not without its challenges.
“We love working together because it allows us to be a part of the same story and to grow our businesses together,” said Matt, “but those hours and the lack of time that we overlap with each other might also be the worst part.”
Rinder-Goddard also reflected on some of the challenges growing up at Fire and Ice.
“I started here when I was 11, washing dishes,” said Rinder-Goddard. “When you grow in a restaurant family, holidays mean different things to you — they mean working longer hours, longer days than you normally would.”
When asked about the challenges they face at their jobs, the owners of Royal Oak talked about their artisan approach to coffee.
“We take a tremendous amount of care when we're making our drinks and we have a pretty small but specialized menu,” said Matt and Alessandra Delia-Lôbo in their email to The Campus. “It's not a place that has a huge amount of offerings and that can be jarring to people that are used to a different kind of coffee shop experience.”
However, they knew that Middlebury was the right place for their coffee shop.
“We fell in love with the town and where it's situated,” said Alessandra. “We loved walking to the farmer's market, the kindness we experienced from strangers … and the town here nestled between two mountain ranges. It seemed perfect (and I think we were right)!”
At Fire and Ice, Rinder-Goddard runs the show with his half-brother, while his dad and step-mom are partners.
“[My parents] were both brought to Middlebury by the college itself, but they fell in love with the community that’s here,” Rinder-Goddard said. “I’ve joked with people that I’ve tried to move away, but have never succeeded.” Rinder-Goddard said some of his customers have been visiting Fire and Ice for around 50 years.
“People right away were so supportive and continue to be,” said Matt and Alessandra Delia-Lôbo. “It's really heartwarming and seriously amazing to feel the love from our customers in the way we do!”
Matt Corrente also feels a deep commitment to his customers at The Arcadian. This commitment motivated the restaurant’s recent move to takeout and delivery.
“We are built on customer service,” he said, “and the idea that at any given moment, in times of sickness or health, we need to be doing whatever we can to help bring comfort, joy, nourishment and pleasure to our guests and our community.”
Fire and Ice restaurant is temporarily closed. The Arcadian and Haymaker Bun Company are open Tuesday-Saturday 12–6 p.m. Call (802) 989-7026 or order online here. Royal Oak Coffee is offering order-ahead, window pick-up only service. Order online here or through the app Cloosiv, found here.
Lucy Townend '22 is a Managing Editor alongside Abigail Chang.
She previously served as a senior section editor, a local editor, and a copy editor.
Townend is majoring in International Politics and Economics, studying French throughout her years at Middlebury and is planning on completing a thesis focused on income inequality and regime change.
This previous summer, Townend interned as a private banking analyst at a mid-sized bank in Chicago and plans to continue her work there after graduation.