This past weekend marked the long-awaited opening of Minifactory, the location of V Smiley Preserves, an award-winning jam business. The business, located at 16 Main Street in Bristol, Vermont, also includes a coffee shop and eatery.
The name “Minifactory” was influenced by several factors, including the small batch production method of V Smiley Preserves that will occur in the shop. Smiley originally founded her preserve-making business in Seattle in 2012 before moving back to Vermont and her childhood farm. Smiley’s preserves are unique, made with honey, not sugar, unlike many other jams. The honey, fruit, aromatics and other ingredients in the preserves are locally sourced, both from Smiley’s own farm and others nearby.
Minifactory hosted an open house on Sunday, March 20, welcoming Vermonters into an airy, revamped space that was formerly the home of Bristol Cliffs Café. After the open house, the following weekend marked the official opening.
“Opening week has been intense and positive. People have filled the space every day we are open,” Smiley said in an email to The Campus. Filling in a longstanding community cafe space is no small feat, but Minifactory manages to provide a community-oriented cafe environment while simultaneously staying true to its own uniquely jam-focused concept. Pops of pink near the counter and cheerful yellow chairs combine to give the space a fresh, welcoming ambiance.
“I wanted to diminish the barrier between front and back of house and give folks as much visual access to our manufacturing as possible while they sip and eat,” Smiley said. On the day of the open house, there was complimentary coffee and tea on tap, sourced from Brio Coffeeworks.
Opening day brought a bustling crowd of all ages investigating the new space. College students, local families with young children and older couples alike relaxed in the seating area and perused the shelves of available goods. At one point in the morning, every table and chair in the café space was completely full as customers lingered and chatted over coffee and biscuits.
The open house menu was concise but well-executed and consisted of a variety of pastries and light breakfast fare, including warm biscuits served with V Smiley raspberry jam or marmalade. Poached pears with yogurt were also on the menu with produce and goods from other Vermont small businesses also available for purchase.
“It makes me so happy to see folks taking home bags of spinach and local carrots with their cappuccinos, Nicolette english muffins and jam,” Smiley said.
Minifactory was originally hoping to open up in Vergennes, Vermont, but rising construction costs during the pandemic meant that even with crowd-funding and broad community support, it was necessary to find another location. “The greatest triumph of opening Minifactory has been the community,” Smiley said. Indeed community members rallied to help remodel and revamp the Bristol space. However, the biggest obstacle thus far has been navigating finances and hiring the staff to match the strong support for the space. At the moment, Minifactory is currently still looking for additional kitchen staff and an operations manager to ease the strain on the kitchen and food production.
When fully up and running, Minifactory will be open Friday through Tuesday as an all-day cafe. Additional events will include dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays, a monthly Sunday Community Supper, and a “Veg Sesh” inspired by Meatless Mondays. Minifactory is already bringing the community and buzz back to the space at 16 Main Street, and there’s much more room for Minifactory to grow.
Olivia Mueller '24 (she/her) is a News Editor.
Previously an Arts and Culture editor, Olivia is an International Politics and Economics major with a Spanish minor. Outside of the Campus, she is a spin instructor for YouPower, an avid runner and hiker, and a member of the Middlebury Mischords a cappella group.