Pie in the Sky: Stone’s Throw Pizza Launches with Vermont Community Loan Fund Financing VCLF Lends $349,000 in Q3 2018
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Childhood best buds, Fairfax natives and culinary entrepreneurs Tyler Stratton and Silas Pollitt are serving much more than just pizza at their new localvore restaurant. They’re serving their community, with delicious food and a gathering place for neighbors, friends and family.
Stone’s Throw Pizza in Fairfax had plenty to celebrate (and eat!) at their grand opening on November 11th. Tyler, Silas and their team fired up the pizza ovens to produce specialty pies including ‘The Farmer’ (house-made white sauce, braised short ribs, toasted hazelnuts) and ‘The Harvester’ (white sauce, roasted squash, dried cherries, ricotta), alongside classics like pepperoni and cheese.
Per the restaurant’s website (stonesthrowpizzavt.com), Stone’s Throw “started with a crazy idea” nearly two decades ago, when, as schoolmates, the duo dreamed of someday working together.
Silas went on to enroll in the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, learning classical French cuisine from internationally renowned chefs. When he discovered his tastes ran more toward casual than classical, he opted for a career at New England pizza franchise Otto Pizza.
Tyler studied medical biology. For extra cash, he’d pick up hours at a pizza shop near his college campus, a turn he credits with steering him from medicine to administrative roles at Whole Foods Market’s Texas headquarters and (coincidence?) Otto Pizza, then on to ownership in two Boston-based pizza shops.
Across these experiences, Tyler learned the ins and outs of restaurant ownership, including “the importance of ambiance, staff, aesthetics, what hospitality means,” and how the right atmosphere can foster community.
“Periodically, Tyler would call to see if the time was right to start something up together,” Silas recalls. It wasn’t until reconnecting at a mutual friend’s wedding that they revisited their original ‘Plan A’ and set to work to make the dream happen: their own restaurant. With complementary strengths in culinary arts and business, the time had come.
They met with a bank to discuss financing for equipment and renovations to the location they’d identified, Fairfax’s former general store. When the bank’s financing offer didn’t work for them, a friend suggested the Vermont Community Loan Fund.
“At that point, we didn’t realize that our concept for a restaurant was so in-sync with the Loan Fund’s mission,” Silas notes. “The Loan Fund is all about bringing community together, and so are we.”
In addition to financing, Tyler notes, the Loan Fund helped the Stone’s Throw team figure out where to source local ingredients. “We get as much as we can from local farmers and food processors,” he says, just as a delivery of fresh mushrooms are dropped off at the restaurant.
“Our local mushroom forager is just another example of the community coming together here,” adds Silas, pointing out the many Fairfax community members at work in the kitchen. “Two BFA (the local regional high school) students, one current and one grad.”
“And my sister Elizabeth,” adds Tyler, “and Silas’ parents.
“And Janet who lives upstairs, and my fiancée, Alison Duhamel, who did our logo, and brand work and does customer service,” Tyler continues.
“All the work and contributions and effort this community has put into Stone’s Throw,” Silas adds, “They’ve helped us paint, helped us move. Our friend Joel Bryant created our poured concrete bar, and just told us he wanted to donate the work. It’s amazing.”
Furthering their concept of a community-centric eatery, the two co-owners would like to link up with other local organizations, school groups and more to host events and foster alliances.
“The Loan Fund understands what we’re trying to do,” says Tyler. “They see that we want to create a restaurant that brings together a community of people. And that’s what the Loan Fund does: they invest in communities and bring people together.” stonesthrowpizzavt.com
Financing was also provided to:
Carmen’s Ice Cream, Lyndonville
With plans to open Mosaic, a new restaurant in Lyndonville’s historic Bag Balm building, the owners of Carmen’s Ice Cream approached the Loan Fund to help finance start-up costs including energy efficiency renovations and restaurant equipment. The building’s newly ADA-accessible second-floor space will be leased to Lyndonville State College for use as community co-working space. Mosaic expects to hire up to 19 employees. carmensicecream.com
Since 1987, the Vermont Community Loan Fund has loaned almost $106 million to local businesses, affordable housing developers and community-based organizations that has created or preserved 6,100 jobs; built or rehabilitated 4,000 affordable homes; created or preserved quality care for over 4,000 children and their families; and supported community organizations providing vital services to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters. investinvermont.org