March 22, 2018

A hint of aloha at Kismet

Observer photo by Jason Starr
Neil Farr of Williston plans a March 15 grand opening of the Scale Poke Bar in the Kismet building on Blair Park Road.

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The newest tenant in the Kismet wellness center will be a first for Vermont.

Williston residents Neil and Perry Farr are opening the Scale Poke Bar in the café location near the entrance of the building formerly occupied by the vegan eatery, Pingala Café.

What is poke? Pronounced by rhyming with “okay,” it is a Japanese-influenced cuisine popularized in Hawaii and now accelerating eastward.

Poke appears on the menus of a select few restaurants in the Green Mountain State, but nowhere is it the primary focus, as it will be at the Scale Poke. The bar will be a choose-your-own-ingredients operation that aims to offer fast, healthy and tasty bowls to customers at the Kismet building — which houses several wellness-oriented businesses — as well as walk-ins from the greater community.

Neil Farr, a native of Colchester and former kitchen manager at the now-defunct Sky Burgers in Burlington, became enamored with poke on a trip last summer to San Francisco. Farr had been working for Reinhart Foodservice, and felt the fast food options on his sales routes were lacking.

“There is nowhere to stop and get quick, healthy food,” he said. “We knew about (poke). We ‘d seen it growing. We tried it and loved it. You can customize it, pick your own ingredients and you wind up with a healthy option.”

A January trip to Hawaii solidified the couple’s plans for the café.

“We really got to see the origins of poke and see what a person from Hawaii would expect to see in a poke bowl.”

The Kismet building space (located at 373 Blair Park Road) will exude Hawaiian style with surf art adorning dark wood panel walls.

Pingala owner Trevor Sullivan had built a food truck replica inside the space when the Kismet building opened last June. But the truck façade has now come down — it was incompatible with Farr’s concept that customers see their ingredient options.

A grand opening for the Scale Poke Bar is set for March 15. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“I am very excited to be here,” Farr said. “I got lucky. I feel like it was meant to be, which is funny — the building is called Kismet (a term loosely defined as ‘meant to be together’).”

Pingala’s Burlington location remains open. Sullivan said the Williston location, just seven months old, no longer fit with Pingala’s long-term plans. In addition to the Burlington café, Sullivan is focused on the recent launch of Animaloo Vegan Foods and its first offering, eggplant bacon. He also operates a food truck called The Broccoli Bar.

“Pingala Café and its subsidiaries operate under the guiding force of connecting as many people as possible to the vegan lifestyle,” Sullivan wrote in a Feb. 2 Facebook post. “… by closing (the Williston location), we will be more poised to fulfill the mission through other wider-reaching projects.

“We are deeply grateful for the support we did receive in Williston while we were there, and hope to carry that momentum with us back to Burlington and new places far beyond.”

In an interview Tuesday, Sullivan added: “Neil and Perry are wonderful people and the building and community should be really excited about them. Their owner/operator orientation will be a great fit.”

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