Before Winooski's Main Street became a sophisticated restaurant row, Waterworks Restaurant was the crown jewel in the town's culinary scene. The huge menu of simple American fare was beside the point. Diners flocked to the two-floor restaurant in the Champlain Mill for its soaring ceilings and tables feet away from the rapids of the Winooski River.
Since its closure, Waterworks has lain empty for close to a decade, falling into disrepair that discouraged restaurateurs from filling the nearly 7,500-square-foot space. But by the end of this year, diners may get a new opportunity to enjoy a meal while watching the rushing waters.
Landlord Brian Tarrant of MyWebGrocer says that when his company took over the building in 2011, he cleaned up the Waterworks space in the hope that a restaurateur might come in and make it over. And he had one in mind: Pizzeria Verità co-owner David Abdoo.
Abdoo, who already has an office in the Champlain Mill, says he's still in "stage one" of planning the restaurant. Before starting major construction on the historic space's "beautiful skeleton," he needs to pick a concept. Abdoo says he hopes the perfect chef will help steer him in the right direction, but he doesn't expect to lean hard on any single cuisine. "A mix of all flavors is what's happening in food, anyway," Abdoo says. He anticipates that the menu will involve "integrating cultures and tastes — something mainstream with a lot of flavor."
Abdoo's goal is to open the restaurant by the end of 2014, though he says he's not rushing. "There's great responsibility to the Winooski community and the space itself," he explains. "That's the idea: to take this responsibility and do something perfect."
The original print version of this article was headlined "Back to the Grindstone"