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Tuesday August 25, 2015 Edition
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Rosie’s Restaurant Has It All

Part of life in the valley for over thirty-five years, Rosie's feels like home and most importantly serves food that tastes like home too!
photo by Photo Provided
Part of life in the valley for over thirty-five years, Rosie's feels like home and most importantly serves food that tastes like home too!

photo by Photo Provided

Tuesday August 25, 2015

By Cookie Steponaitis

Addison County residents have been coming to 886 Route 7 South in Middlebury for great food, friendship and breaking bread together since 1962. Rosie’s was originally known as Palmer’s Dairy Bar whose counter seated twenty six and served hamburgers, French fries and was famed for dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cottage cheese and chocolate milk.  Most business came to the windows for takeout, ice creams cones and buying gallons of local milk. Owner Bill Palmer added a small kitchen and dining room in the early 1970’s increasing seating capacity to around seventy. The business became owned in 1971 by Augi and Vera Giannetti and was opened seven days a week with both Augi or Vera working and children Denise and Victor. A fire damaged most of the restaurant in August 1974 and the Gianetti’s sold in 1975 to  Jay and Lorraine McDermott , who sold in 1978 to the  Fire & Ice Corporation. During this time frame seating went from about 70 to 120. Current owners Kevin and Marlene Cummings purchased the business in 1986 and are approaching their 30th anniversary.
    What makes Rosie’s such a standout in the community and in its history is the sense of family felt not only by the patrons but the staff as well. General Manager Ron Sunderland has been working at the restaurant since 1971and finds his job a combination of many things he loves in his life. “I have wanted to work in the restaurant business ever since I was a young boy,” shared Sunderland. “My first restaurant job was at the Halfway House in Shoreham when I was fourteen doing dishes. I have always loved to cook. And home cooking is what I love to eat and love to cook as well. I think the people are what keep me here. The staff is like family and the customers are too. The biggest changes I think are the expansions. We have added on so many times it is hard to keep track and the change in how we handle the extra staff and extra business is always a challenge.” And in addition to Sunderland, Rosie boasts other employees who go back far in the history of the restaurant and are currently welcoming three generations of some families in for a meal. Dining Room Manager June Denis has also worked at the restaurant since 1977 and Stephanie Rule, Matt Willey, Chris Dorman and Bridget Dorman round out the management team.
    While additions and facelifts to the building have occurred over time, it was in 1999 when Rosie’s added the post and beam and the large wrap around porch that expanded Rosie’s to the current 200 seating capacity and allowed them to do parties and banquets. The number of cars in the front testifies to the number of people stopping in Rosie’s for a meal, a meeting or just to chat with locals. Everyone has their own favorite meal and Sunderland shared insights into local favorites. “I think our Pea Soup, Liver and Onions and our platters are some of the favorites,” remarked Sunderland. “Whether it is turkey, pork or meatloaf, all are popular. Liver and Onions has been on the menu since day one and very popular.”
    Joining the families and regulars are civic groups including Middlebury Rotary who have been holding their regular meetings at Rosie’s for over twenty- five years. Close behind are the Middlebury Lions who moved to Rosie’s and are one of several organizations that meet there on a regular basis. Bus tours, catered events, many sports teams and rehearsal dinners round out the different groups that come regularly to Rosie’s. The good food, home cooking and large helpings make it easy to see why people keep coming back.  People come alone or with families to be greeted by wait staff that in some cases has been there twenty five years or more.
Rosie’s Birthday Club was started about thirty-five ago by previous owner Dutton Smith, and originally began as Fred the Birthday Club. A registered member is offered a free meal on their birthday and the club has grown into a Rosie’s tradition with currently over 6000 Birthday Club people registered. Besides the warmth of the people and great meals, the visitor sees a glass case featuring the home cooked desserts of great local bakers. Eye catching and fresh, the contents of the case causes the six year old or the senior citizen to press against the glass and imagine what the delectable creation will taste like. “We have had several great bakers over the years starting with Theresa Brisson,” explained Ron Sunderland. “She used to do the pies from home and bring them in until we found her a little nook in the kitchen for her to make them here. Followed by Evelyn Quesnel for many years and we expanded and added more desserts. Evelyn retired and we hired Janet Clark. And about two years ago we added the dessert case out front which made a bigger challenge for Janet to bake and keep the case full and eye catching. Janet has been making her creations for us for about six years.”
Whether you are a regular at Rosie’s once a week, once a month or every day, there is a sharing of a common experience. Start with the great personality of people; add in great food, the traditions and a sense of customers being family and the equation for Rosie’s success is apparent. “Yes we get a pay check, but it doesn't feel like a job per say,” concluded Sunderland. “It feels like home and like family with the great staff and great food we have.  We’ve always tried to keep the menu home cooked and the staff friendly and smiling.”

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