Former village cafe reborn as tavern (4/9/09)

April 9, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Williston village’s newest and only restaurant opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday. Owner and operator David Herskowitz hopes his newest venture, Monty’s Old Brick Tavern, will be a successful and unique addition to the historic downtown.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
David Herskowitz (center), owner of Monty’s Old Brick Tavern, talks with his waitstaff last Friday in preparation for the restaurant’s opening this week.

The restaurant is located in the same building as the former Old Brick Café. The tavern is open only for dinner, except on Sundays, when the restaurant offers brunch.

Monty’s Old Brick Tavern, named after Herskowitz’s golden retriever, also has a liquor license, making it the village’s first drinking establishment in recent memory.

“I’ve heard so many people say they’re excited about finally having a place in the village to come, have a beer and watch the game,” Herskowitz said.

The Old Brick Café first opened under Herskowitz in 2005, offering breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. The restaurant tried dinner service, but it proved unsuccessful. The café closed in 2007, but reopened last August after Herskowitz leased the business to Melissa Blanchard and Scott Nicholson.

That venture only lasted until December after the couple failed to meet “contractual obligations,” Herskowitz told The Observer in January.

After both versions of the Old Brick Café struggled to attract a steady flow of customers, Herskowitz decided a restaurant that served good food and drinks would likely become a mainstay.

“For people in Williston, it’s better suited to have a place for dinner,” Herskowitz said.

Herskowitz also said the uncertain state of the economy won’t be a problem for Monty’s.

“If you go into Taft Corners, all those places are packed all the time,” he said. “People still are going out to eat.”

Since the beginning of the year, Herskowitz and his staff have been remodeling the interior of the historic former home, built in 1842, to create a tavern atmosphere. Changes include a new entrance to the left of the old one, a separate bar area complete with pub-style seating and big-screen televisions, and a refurbished and repainted dining area. The kitchen has also been closed off behind the bar.

The menu offers steak, chicken and seafood dishes in what Herskowitz considers upscale pub dinner style. Appetizers include grilled chicken wings and mussel chowder. Meals range from small to large, including the Brick Burger, a cast iron steak and fries and braised rabbit. Poached salmon and chicken paillard are also on the menu. Kids’ and dessert menus are also available.

The tavern also features a selection of wine and liquor and has several beers on tap, including Long Trail, Magic Hat and Otter Creek ales.

Running the kitchen are two veterans of Shelburne Farms — Adam Schwartz and Ian Hommel.

Herskowitz said he doesn’t foresee parking as an issue, as it’s been in the past. The establishment has a few spaces, but Herskowitz said there’s plenty of parking across the street at Town Hall and behind the tavern at Williston Central School.

“It’s public parking,” Herskowitz said matter-of-factly.

Monty’s Old Brick Tavern is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Herskowitz said the bar will stay open later if there are patrons. On Sundays the tavern will offer brunch and open at 8 a.m. The tavern is closed Mondays.