It’s the end of a delicious era: McCarthy’s Restaurant will close its doors after one last day of service — and a party — today, Oct. 31, 2019.
Owned and operated by Diane McCarthy, the landmark restaurant has been serving breakfast and lunch for 45 years to generations of locals and visitors on the Mountain Road in Stowe.
McCarthy’s has remained popular throughout its four and a half decades of serving up most excellent breakfasts and lunches — crispy-cushy home fries, corned beef and Reubens, fluffy pancakes and Belgian waffles piled high with berries and cream, eggs any way you want them — to early risers and late brunchers alike. Thousands have lined up at the crack of dawn to get a seat at the annual St. Patrick’s Day party.
The restaurant operated at 454 Mountain Road since it moved across the street to the old Sister Kate’s location in 1985.
The town retains its reputation as a “ski mecca,” but the clientele has calmed down since the party days of the 1970s and ‘80s, McCarthy said in an interview during the restaurant’s 40th anniversary.
“People would come in for breakfast after dancing all night at the Baggy Knees,” McCarthy laughed. “It was crazy.”
She’s seen multiple generations grow up — and grow old — at the restaurant. Many employees have worked with her for years, including server Jill Warner and several members of the Kelly/Ruschp family, as well as her own three daughters.
The restaurant, which employed on average 20 people, wasn’t immune to the labor crunch that has affected the local hospitality industry. In September 2018, McCarthy said in an interview that she was working “pretty much every day” to keep the restaurant running.
McCarthy is known for her quiet generosity, supporting countless local organizations, individuals and families.
McCarthy was named business person of the year by the Stowe Area Association in 2010, and then-president Chuck Baraw called her “an unsung, extraordinarily generous member of the Stowe community.”
McCarthy’s Restaurant was voted best breakfast/brunch in every year of the Stowe Reporter’s 4393 Awards, our annual readers’ choice contest that began in 2015. McCarthy herself was nominated as Ms. Stowe every year, taking the title twice. Readers also gave kudos for McCarthy’s family-friendly dining and catering services.
For those wanting to get a final breakfast, cup of coffee or just a hug from Diane, the restaurant is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today — Halloween — and there will be an all-day party, a la St. Paddy’s, emceed by Peigi Guerra.
“It is bittersweet,” McCarthy said. “There are so many great memories.”
What’s next for the storied location? The business has a buyer, McCarthy said, but the transaction hasn’t closed yet.
Scuttlebutt in town has pegged Burlington-based crepe restaurant The Skinny Pancake as the next owners.
Michael Cyr, the marketing director for Skinny Pancake, confirmed Tuesday that the company is in talks with the current owners. Cyr said nothing has been finalized but “we’re hopeful” the sale goes through.
“It’s very rare that you get to entertain an opportunity with such a storied history as McCarthy’s,” Cyr said. “If we’re able to make a deal, we hope to extend that tradition.”
The Skinny guys — brothers Jonny and Benjy Adler — already have one Stowe location, a smaller place in the Spruce Peak village. But they were hopeful to have a year-round location in town.
Currently there are 10 Skinny Pancake locations, including three in the Burlington Airport. The others are the flagship on Burlington’s waterfront, downtown Montpelier, Quechee, the University of Vermont, Sugarbush Resort and Hanover, N.H.
Cyr said the owners try to find buildings with good bones — “we are really enamored with that patio” at McCarthy’s, he said — and some local history, rather than build something new.
“The few times we’ve been in there, you could feel it,” Cyr said. “It can sound corny to say, but we try to be a reflection of the community that we are in.”
This story was updated and published in the Stowe Reporter Oct. 31.