Giant homemade muffins line the top of the baby blue and yellow tile-faced counter of the old-fashioned Birdseye Diner, while black cushioned metallic stools frame the front allowing for a tasty peak into a freshly stocked kitchen.Every bright red cushioned booth was full at 9.a.m Friday, but this is considered a mundane business period for the Main Street eatery.
When asked if that was seen as busy, waitress Debbie Griffin said, “oh no, you should see this place at 7 every morning.”
“You get some real characters,” Griffin said. “Weekends in general are pretty busy too.”
Then again, why wouldn’t a place like this be packed regularly? Owner of the Birdseye, John Rehlen is a proud member of the Vermont Fresh Network, which is meant to bring local farms and businesses together.
“I believe it’s important not only for the local economy, but the freshness and quality is important too,” said Rehlen.
Rehlen listed over 15 different Vermont farms and Vermont product producing companies from all over the state that the Birdseye buys many of its products from.
“I think it’s very unique in knowing my food I eat there is fresh and I know it’s coming from trustworthy people and not from delivery trucks from far away states,” said Jess Berry, Castleton State College senior.
It’s not just the origin of the products that students and locals may be attracted to, but the atmosphere as well.
“You can tell that the waitresses know almost everyone that comes in,” said Morgan Gendron, a transfer student from Mount Ida in Newton, Mass. “Whenever I go there, they seem to crack jokes with a lot of the customers.”
Products that are regularly stocked that aren’t considered seasonal include milk from Thomas Dairy in Rutland, free-range eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, Cabot cheddar cheeses and butter from the town of Cabot, and the tomatoes come from Whipple Hollow Hydroponic Farm in Florence. Vermont Herb and Salad provides seasonal items as well and also, whenever available, natural, never frozen grass fed burger from Belted Galloway cows is used from Ira, Rehlen said.
“This is part of our mission,” said Rehlen. “It’s important for the community to know where their food is coming from.”
Zack Wiessner, a senior at Castleton State College, was surprised to learn the diner belonged to the Vermont Fresh Network.
“It’s nice to know that now. I feel like it helps the farms themselves out too, by getting the word out fro their products,” said Weissner. “I’d prefer that the products be local because it gives back to the community and the area.