The past year hasn’t been slack time for Pam Scanlon. Last summer, she and her partner, Michael Niederer, purchased the space alongside their existing business, Radio Deli. Their vision for the decades-old diner and bakery — known until last summer as Doughboy’s Bakery & Coffee Shop — was an affordable, accessible gathering place for locals, some of whom reside in nearby senior homes.
Last Saturday, after nearly a year, Pearl Street Diner finally opened its doors. “It took a lot to get this place open,” says Scanlon, pausing during a recent lull between breakfast and lunch. “So far, so good.”
For starters, the space turned out to need major renovations. Besides busting through a wall to create a door to connect the previously separated diner and bakery, refurbishing the bathrooms and installing new floors, Scanlon went over each detail. She took each booth apart and “sanded and steamed out a bazillion years’ worth of gunk,” she says. Scanlon’s mother offered advice on the process, but passed away in October before she had a chance to see the reimagined diner.
Inside the now-brighter space, the kitchen opens at 6 a.m. during the week, when morning cook Sean Drumm (formerly of Sadie Katz Deli) sizzles up eggs Benedict, French toast, pancakes, omelettes — some with chorizo sausage or apples and cheddar — and the requisite eggs and bacon.
Lunchtime brings sandwiches such as a Philly cheesesteak with shaved ribeye steak and gooey cheese; a black-bean burger with feta; open-faced hot sandwiches; and burgers and salads. A lot of it is homemade, Scanlon says, from the Hollandaise sauce to the corned-beef hash to the biscuits that come with sausage and gravy. Her lasagna and shepherd’s pie may soon join the lunch roster.
The diner’s first month is a soft opening, adds Scanlon, because both the space and menu are in flux. “It’s pretty exciting. And we’re not a bus depot,” she says drily, referring to the shock she got last fall when she saw 85 Pearl Street on a list of potential sites for a new Burlington transit center.
More projects await: Scanlon and crew are in the midst of renovating the adjacent Doughboy’s bakery, where they will eventually serve up fresh baked goods such as pies and cakes, as well as ice cream and milkshakes. The diner’s seating will be the original Oasis Diner booths from Sadie Katz, which Scanlon scored from the former owner.
Pearl Street Diner is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pearl Street Diner, 85 Pearl Street, Burlington
Tom D.: I'm sorry to see Donny's close. They made great pizza there and the chef's father, Demetrius (sp?), was…
Michael Gaskin: I'm glad someone is finally meeting the untapped market demand for local beer in Chittenden County.
Sarah Muller: Can I apply for a position there?!
Samantha Winchell: I hope they bring back the chimichangas, so good!