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The Guilty Plate

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The Guilty Plate Diner is located in a shopping center at the site of a former Video World. It's in the Malletts Bay neighborhood of Colchester. (Courtesy Josh Crane / Vermont Public Radio)
The Guilty Plate Diner is located in a shopping center at the site of a former Video World. It's in the Malletts Bay neighborhood of Colchester. (Courtesy Josh Crane / Vermont Public Radio)

So far in this season of Last Seen, we've unraveled food mysteries: from “berried” treasure and the lost history of Cambridge's Confectioners’ Row, to the real origin of Quebec’s unofficial national dish, Chinese pie.

This week, we're bringing you another food-related mystery — this time from our friendly neighbors to the north, Vermont Public and Brave Little State producer Josh Crane.

If you go out to eat right now, you’re likely to run into restaurants that are struggling because they’re missing a crucial ingredient: staff. In this episode, Josh sets out to solve the mystery of the COVID-era restaurant industry exodus, by telling the story of one Vermont diner, The Guilty Plate.

The full version of this story was originally published on December 1, 2022 on Vermont Public's people-powered podcast, Brave Little State.

For more about the show, and to listen to other episodes, check out bravelittlestate.org.

Many thanks to Josh Crane, Vermont Public, and the rest of the Brave Little State team for sharing this story with us.

Show notes: 


Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text.

Nora Saks: Hey everyone, Nora Saks here. I’m the curator of this season of Last Seen — our show about people, places and things that have gone missing, from WBUR, Boston’s NPR Station.

So far this season, those things gone missing have been mostly food related.

We’ve hunted for “berried” treasure, unwrapped the lost history of Confectioners’ Row, and searched for the origin of Quebec’s unofficial national dish, Chinese pie.

And then we heard from a friendly neighbor to the north, Vermont Public, and a reporter there named Josh Crane.

Josh has been trying to solve his own food-related mystery. Josh works on a show called Brave Little State. They accept questions from curious listeners that then get voted on by other listeners. And This mystery came from a Vermonter named Khrista. She wanted to know about something that is disappearing from all over the place.

If you go out to eat right now, you’re likely to run into restaurants that are struggling because they’re missing a crucial ingredient of their business.

Khrista: So what happened to all the restaurant workers? Where have they gone? And what are they doing now?

Today on Last Seen, Josh Crane sets out to answer Khrista’s question. By telling the story of one restaurant, a diner actually, in Colchester, Vermont. From the highs…

Michael Alvanos: Our timing was impeccable, because we've worked so long together.

Nora: To the lows…

Taylor Courville: Definitely, it was like, I can't do this anymore.

Nora: To the end of an era.

Taylor: I think we all kind of saw the writing on the wall.

Josh Crane: In 2013, at the site of a former video store, a Colchester greasy spoon opened its doors. Its name? The Guilty Plate Diner.

(Diner music.)

Michael: It was good food fast! You're not going in for, you know, white table service …

Josh: Michael Alvanos. He was a co-owner.

But the idea was that the servers, as you go in more, you would start to know the people that are making your food. And that was more important.

Josh: Even if you don’t know the Guilty Plate Diner, specifically, you know the Guilty Plate Diner: Eggs and pancakes in the morning. Soups and sandwiches at lunch. Black and white checkered floor. Soda fountain.

Michael: You know, red booths with, like, a cavalier look to them. Not go full, you know, Walt Disney-style with the 50s. But try to do … nods back to it. So small booths, counter space, quick coffee, quick meals, you're in, and you're out.

Josh: Michael said he wanted The Guilty Plate to serve as a contrast to the trendy farm-to-table restaurants that had been popping up all over the area. Hence, the name “Guilty Plate.” And also the welcoming family vibe.

Michael: You know, you come in. “Hi, how you doing? Coffee?” “Yes,” you know, and they would know your order.

Josh: The emphasis on “family” wasn’t just for customers. Michael’s fellow co-owner was his older brother, Evan. Their parents, George and Christine, were both involved too. The family had operated restaurants in the area for years, including the Pine Street Deli in Burlington’s South End.

That’s where Michael met Taylor Courville, a fresh-faced 16-year-old at the time.

Taylor: Probably like my second job I ever had.

Josh: Also, Nick, or “Niko,” Sobolev…

Niko Sobolev: I had just gotten out of the army and off of deployment and was working at Price Chopper. And all of my roommates at the time had slowly started getting jobs at the Pine Street Deli, and then the rest is history.

Josh: That earlier restaurant, the Pine Street Deli, is where Niko, Taylor, Michael, and Michael’s brother, Evan, became fast friends. So, when Michael and Evan were making plans to open the Guilty Plate in 2013, they knew where to turn for help.

Michael: And somehow I was able to finagle these two into tagging along. And they both were young enough and, quite frankly, naive enough to come along with me.

Josh: Michael says “naive” because, in some ways, the Guilty Plate Diner was like a grand experiment. A chance for the Alvanos family to transition from a market & deli to a full-time restaurant. And it was an opportunity for Michael to combine his restaurant career … with his other career as an architect. He’d been working both jobs simultaneously.

Michael: I never wanted to step out of architecture. So, for me, I tried to find a parallel path to doing a lot of the things that I love.

Josh: Were you being pulled by your family in one direction? And …

Michael: No! (Laughs.)

Taylor: Yeah.

Michael: Not at all! Yes. Yes. Big time, big time. There's a massive, you know, tension, I think, probably resulted in the end of my first marriage. But that's something I don't want to talk about on the record. (Laughs.)

Josh: When the property that would eventually become the Guilty Plate Diner came on the market, Michael saw an opportunity to put his architecture skills to good use.

Michael: I said to my mom and dad again, I tricked them somehow into saying, “We should redevelop this property.”

Josh: The space was totally empty when they took over. So, Michael got to work figuring out the restaurant layout. Which he did. And then…

Taylor: Should we talk about the hallway?

Josh: The hallway. When the guys were first setting up the diner, they realized that the hallway connecting the back entrance to the kitchen was too narrow to fit some of the cooking equipment.

Taylor: So our equipment had to go through our serving window with like, three dudes on each side, like manhandling this, like, massive oven, to fit it through.

Michael: But to my credit, I gave you guys a huge window to be able to put the equipment through. So, I think, mission accomplished. (Laughs.)

Josh: By the time The Guilty Plate was up-and-running, Taylor and Niko were basically honorary members of the Alvanos family. In large part thanks to Michael and Evan’s dad, George, who grew up in Greece.

Niko: He never called me Nick. (Imitates George.) Niko! Niko!

Josh: Niko was big on experimentation in the kitchen. George? More of a traditionalist. Michael remembers a time Niko decided to cook a turkey with jalapenos stuffed under the skin. George wasn’t thrilled.

Michael: I don't know how the timing worked out. But he just happened to walk in at that moment. And he looks, he’s like, “No, Niko. You do not put jalapenos on top of a turkey.”

Niko: Why not?!

Michael: Yeah. Why? Why? No, I wanted to add a little spice to it.

Josh: George worked in the kitchen too at his own pace.

Michael: My father was mainly in charge of creating the soups, the gravies. But, you know, there's some times where it was getting a little late in the day, and we're like, you know what, we need gravy. And he’d be like, “Oh, ‘kay, I'm coming. I'm coming.” And you're like, “Okay, I can just whip this up faster,” but at your own detriment, because the corrections would come. Like, “No, that's not how I make this.”

Niko: “You can’t serve this.”

Michael: “You can’t serve this.” Yeah. Yeah.

Niko: It's not the right shade of brown. (Laughs.)

Josh: While everyone in the kitchen shared responsibilities, Taylor and Niko recognized one true leader: Michael’s older brother, Evan.

Taylor: Ferocious leader.

Niko: Yeah.

Taylor: He was the glue.

Niko: Definitely. Evan was the chef. I know we all joke around and call each other “chef,” but Evan was the chef.

Josh: Michael told me that Evan was always laid back in the kitchen. Supremely confident in his ability to put out any proverbial (or literal) fires. And whenever he got ahold of the Bluetooth speaker … it was mostly AC/DC and Guns & Roses.

(Metal music.)

Josh: Just imagine: Sunday brunch rush in the front-of-house. Four dudes rocking out in the back-of-house — someone on pans, someone on the grill, someone on the fryers and someone on expo — always in total sync.

Michael: Our timing was impeccable, you know, because we've worked so long together, it would be you know, everything from how quickly they're putting the, the oil or the butter in the pan to how the crack in the eggs to how quickly that's cooked when you cook the bacon or the sausage, how the pancakes go down, if you need home fries at the right time, all of those sort of this formula, this delicate balance almost musical, you know, relationship that you have to how this whole thing works. And we just got exceptional at it.

Josh: And when the guys stopped rocking out, they would talk about all sorts of things. But, Niko always wanted to talk about one thing in particular: the universe. And, no, I don't mean that in an existential way.

Niko: We would talk about black holes, and just all the crazy science stuff you'd see in the news…

Josh: Was it really conversations about black holes in the kitchen?

Taylor: Yeah, I don't have much of an interest in it. But these two, I mean, yeah, you’d go on for hours trying to cook and you're like, alright guys…

Niko: Yeah, we definitely had a full board of tickets and we’d be like, oh man, Schwarzschild radius … Oh God.

Josh: It sounds like you guys made food on the side. (Laughs.)

Niko: Sometimes it felt that way!

Josh: But Niko swears they did actually churn out a lot of food.

Niko: We rarely had ticket times over 15-20 minutes. One guy, I’d see him get out of his truck, and I would just start what he was going to order because he got it every single time.

Josh: When I asked the guys about the best thing on the menu, they all had the same answer: Eggs benedict.

Niko: Yeah, they were huge. We had four on the menu on any given time. We would do a series of special Bennys, like a buffalo chicken one …

Taylor: Montreal smoked meat

Niko: Montreal smoked meat. Barbecued chicken. Did Mason do like a fried green tomato benny?

Taylor: Yeah I don’t think it sold very well.

Michael: It didn’t sell very well at all. Mason never had anything that sold very well. (Laughs.)

Josh: Mason, I should note, was another member of the crew at the Guilty Plate Diner. And, according to Michael, Taylor and Niko, he played a very crucial role — as the butt of a lot of jokes. It seems like a role he might still occupy…

Michael: Poor Mason. Sorry, I don't mean to use your your podcast as a joke. But, Mason, if you hear this, I just want you to know you're terrible at cooking. (Laughs.)

Taylor: We’re joking, Mason, we love you.

Mason Patrie: (Laughs.) Yeah. (Clears throat.)

Josh: I reached out to Mason to get his response.

Mason: Yeah they told me that many of times. But all in good fun … sort of.

Josh: If you’re hearing this, you might be thinking, “Huh, the Guilty Plate Diner was run by a bunch of bros.” And, I mean, you wouldn’t be wrong.

Michael: Listen, we’ve spent far too much time together. (Laughs.)

Taylor: Yeah, for a decade of our lives, tormenting each other.

Michael: Listen, I wanna make sure that’s on the record. I actually don’t like these guys. I don’t know what Nick was telling you …

Angie Pierce: Yeah, they … they definitely had a crazy bond that was just so awesome to just, like, witness.

Josh: That’s Angie Pierce, a former server at The Guilty Plate.

Angie: It's like brothers. Just, you know, Niko’s got this, like, giant diagram of something he's working on at school. And Michael's trying to tell them this about this, and then Mason's trying to tell him like, “Guys, we got cooking to do!” And then Taylor's probably eating something in the corner. You know, it’s just … (Laughs.)

Josh: I wanted to get Angie’s perspective on working at the diner because, at least at first, she was a bit of an outsider. She was hired in 2016, a few years after the diner had opened. And she came with about a decade of experience working in other Vermont restaurants. Which means she would know if working at the diner really was as special as Michael and Niko and Taylor made it out to be.

Turns out, it was.

Angie: The family feeling. It was definitely that family feeling. Like I could walk in at 6:30 in the morning and had, had who even knows like what my face looks like — you know, I have a 10-year-old so sometimes, like, getting out the door was a struggle — and I'd show up and Mama Christine would be there with a warm cup of coffee and, just, the lights would be out and it'd be dark and quiet and she would just say, “Good morning, beautiful.” Or you look back and Evan would say, “Oh God, go fix your face! But good morning!” Like, you know, it's just that, like, this is my family. Like this is … yeah.

Josh: Angie also says that all those boys in the kitchen? They always had her back.

Angie: For me, as a waitress, you know, sometimes you're in situations that are not necessarily ideal, you know, people can get pretty unruly in a sense. And I never, I never felt like they didn't have my back in any situation. People would walk in, if front-of-house was busy and back-of-house saw they were busy, they were quick to be like, “Hey guys, like she'll be right with you,” or “Let me start some coffee.” It’s just that feeling.

Josh: I first got interested in the story of the Guilty Plate diner after posting Khrista’s winning question on social media. And a ton of you shared your stories about leaving the restaurant industry.

I heard from someone who left their restaurant gig to finally quit drinking and lead a healthier life. I heard from a former cook who became an elementary school teacher. And another who left their restaurant to attend coding bootcamp and start a tech job. And a former Brattleboro bagel-maker who’s now a paralegal in Providence, Rhode Island.

Some people said the pandemic was the push they needed. Like a 25-year restaurant vet who finally left the industry to open a store for her art. And a former waiter who used his pandemic stimulus check to launch a business restoring wood stoves.

I also heard from someone who left a message on the BLS hotline:

[BLS hotline message audio: I have been in and out of the restaurant industry for so many different reasons. And I think a lot of people are making it out to be a much simpler issue than it really is. I mean, you always come back thinking it’ll be different this time. And then you get sick of it all over again. And you make good money for a little bit. And then you just get burnt out because people can be a bit demanding. And it wears on you. So I guess, like, where did all the restaurant workers go? Well, like, to greener pastures mostly, is kind of the deal. Like, you know, if you don’t get treated that well all the time and your pay is kinda inconsistent, eventually you try out something else. Alright, buh bye.]

Josh: Not many with experience working in restaurants seem all too surprised by the current restaurant worker shortage.

But while I was absorbing all your stories of exodus from the restaurant industry, there was one, in particular, that jumped out. It was from Niko Sobolev. He’s the one who first told me about the Guilty Plate. He said that every employee from that diner, quote, “went on to get a higher paying job in a less stressful field.

In fact-checking this episode, I learned that Niko’s mostly right. There are at least two Guilty Plate staffers still working in the restaurant industry, but Michael, Niko, Taylor, Angie and many others … they all left. And they’re pursuing totally different careers.

And the story of what happened at the Guilty Plate is an example of the absolute transformation that a lot of places — and people — went through because of COVID.

It was a transformation that took place in spite of how much they all genuinely loved working together. Prior to COVID, for instance, none of them had seriously considered leaving, even when the work was really hard.

Michael: The restaurant business for if your listeners don't know, it is an extraordinarily hard job. It is. For us, for the guys in this room, this is 4:30 in the morning, till 4:30 In the afternoon sometimes. It's such grueling work that if you, if you don't have people next to you that you can laugh at all the time and joke around with and try to try to find humor in this crazy world of ours, then yeah, maybe it is a terrible toxic environment.

Niko: We would have days where from 7am until, like 2am, not one of us would have gone to the bathroom once. And then we were just kind of like reaction, whatever. That's the job.

Angie: It never made sense, financially, you know, especially as a single mom, that did not make any sense to leave a job. But it was more than just a job for me. I would be walking away from my biggest support that I had in Vermont.

Taylor: At the end of a Sunday breakfast rush. Definitely, it was like, I can't do this anymore. But, you know, you'd go to work the next day. And you know, you'd be around the people that you loved, and you just kind of kept pushin’ along.

Josh: Then, all of a sudden, they just couldn’t.

Michael: Too much have changed in such a short amount of time.

Josh: When we come back, the end of an era at The Guilty Plate.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Josh: When I asked an economist for the answer to Khrista’s question, he gave me the big picture.

Mathew Barewicz: The data points to, like, an increase in acceleration of retirements during the pandemic.

That’s Mathew Barewicz from the Vermont Department of Labor. And the data he’s referring to shows that Vermont has one of the oldest workforces of any state in the country. It’s been an ongoing concern for our Governor, Phil Scott.

[Press conference audio:

Governor Phil Scott: It’s just a math issue. You’re going to have a labor force problem eventually. The pandemic exacerbated that, but it was going to happen anyhow.] 

Mathew: Nothing like COVID had been around that had shifted the entire discussion about how an industry or how an economy is going to run. We've never seen anything like it in you know, probably since the last World War.

Josh: Mathew also points out that, even before the pandemic, food prep and food service jobs had the highest turnover rate of any job category.

Mathew: So you're basically saying 1/3 of everybody who's currently working in a restaurant or bar is probably not going to be there a year from now.

Josh: Basically, the restaurant industry was already operating close to a knife’s edge. So even a little disruption would make a big difference. The pandemic was more than a little disruption.

But all the data in the world still wouldn’t encapsulate what happened at The Guilty Plate Diner in 2020.

[WCAX television clip: At 2 in the afternoon all bars and restaurants must close or offer takeout only.] 

[Vermont Public Radio clip: Monday, Governor Phil Scott ordered all restaurants and bars in Vermont to shut down until at least April 6th.]

Niko: Well it closed in March or I think yeah, in March when you know there was a moratorium basically on eating inside.

Taylor: Mike called us all in together for big team meetings, front of house, back to house. Couldn’t believe it. It was like a bad dream.

Josh: What started as a bad dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

Evan Alvanos, Michael’s older brother, chef and fellow co-owner of the diner, died on April 10th, 2020. He was one of the first Vermonters to die from COVID.

“Evan simply had an unfailing work ethic, and would not give up,” his obituary said. It also included Evan’s own description of the The Guilty Plate Diner staff: quote, “a true dysfunctional family who I respect and love.”

Michael told me that because of the COVID restrictions, they were not able to hold a formal funeral. He also said that Evan’s death served as motivation for the diner staff to reopen.

Michael: After he had passed away, I did ask these guys. I said, “Hey, listen, let's let's try to do this again.”

Taylor: Motivation was there to reopen it for him. Yeah, to bring us all back together.

NBC5 News was there to document the reopening in June 2020.

[NBC5 television clip: At the Guilty Plate DIner in Colchester, the open sign is flashing once again. And the orders are coming in for takeout. Hoping that the sandwiches they send out can give their beloved customers a sense of normalcy.] 

Josh: But for the staff, normalcy was hard to come by.

Niko: It was like, this is for Evan. We're gonna make this exactly the way it was. And it was just an impossible task because he wasn't there.

Taylor: But like I said before, he was he was the glue. And he held us all together. It was, you know, like the big. It was Mike's actual big brother and he was like a brother to us. And I was it was hard to be there. It was very difficult to be there. And, you know, like it got to a point where you just didn't see yourself wanting to be there.

Angie: Beyond just losing a boss, it was losing the heart of the diner. I mean, Evan brought so much to the diner besides just just food.

Josh: I want everyone to take a step back here. Try to remember where you were in those early weeks and months of the pandemic. What it felt like. The uncertainty. The anxiety. The isolation. The sickness. The death of a loved one. Or multiple loved ones.

I think one of the answers to Khrista’s question — what happened to all the restaurant workers? — it’s the same as the answer to what happened to the rest of us. No one survived that experience unscathed — emotionally, mentally, or physically. And too many of us didn’t survive.

Meanwhile, restaurant workers were dealing with all of this at the same time as they were trying to do a hard job that had become ridiculously harder, basically overnight.

Niko: You know, we were still in, you know, inside a building with, you know, hundreds of strangers coming through in the day, coming in, sitting down and spending like 30 minutes without the mask, breathing through the ventilation system, and then leaving. And so it was honestly a little nerve wracking on us on top of everything else that was going on, to have that additional element of exposure.

Angie: Just from my own personal observations, people's entitlement as customers kind of shifted after COVID. And I felt less like it was my job, and more like I had to do what they needed. And their stuff needed to be the way they wanted it. In a sense, there was, I don't know, less joy. And there was less grace period for mistakes, unless you were in the industry or went through those adjustments, I think that it's hard for people to see it.

After the Guilty Plate Diner reopened, Angie, Niko, Taylor and Michael were grieving their friend and brother — and Michael’s parents were grieving their son — at the same time as they were all trying to run a restaurant. And it was impossible for them to separate the two.

Michael: My brother is a direct loss from COVID. I think that that was hard for us to deal with, in a lot of ways, because there were people at the time, and I don't want to get crazy on the political side, but there were people at the time that didn't know what had happened to our family. And they didn't want to deal with the COVID restrictions. And we were put in the uncomfortable position of having to police it to some degree: you have to come into this restaurant wearing a face mask, you have to sanitize your hands. And then you have to deal with the the eye rolls. The "Oh, it's it's not real. Oh, it's safe. Oh, it's this, you know, and not to get again to down the rabbit hole with this." But there were times where I was out front. And I literally had people say you believe that this is real? And what am I supposed to say? When my brother had just passed away from the results of COVID. You know, I couldn't even speak.

Josh: The entire time the diner was reopened, the staff were having ongoing conversations about whether to close it for good. And when. And how.

Taylor: I think we all kind of saw the writing on the wall.

Josh: There were lots of reasons to close: Severely reduced seating in the restaurant. Supply chain issues. Health risks. Also, in the new restaurant economy where takeout was king? Sitdown breakfast spots didn’t really stand a chance.

But the main reason was the person who was no longer there in the kitchen with them. And their grief for his loss.

Michael: It's very difficult to, to go back into that restaurant, because we all spent, you know, spent hundreds, if not 1000s of hours there with Evan. And you see knives that he used, you see cutting boards that he's clean, you see the grill that used to, you know, pour hours over you see old handwriting that he has on inventory sheets that he used to have. You know, so it's, he's everywhere in that place.

The Guilty Plate closed for the second time in February of 2021. In June of 2022, the Alvanos family sold it. And in September of 2022, it reopened under new ownership.

The current owner, Darrell Langworthy, says he faced staffing challenges at first, but they’re currently doing OK.

Angie: As far as the Alvanos-run Guilty Plate Diner, there's never ever going to be one like it, that's for sure. It is absolutely for sure.

Josh: Angie Pierce, former server at the Guilty Plate, moved to the West Coast in 2021. She still picks up a few bartending shifts every once in a while, but she’s mostly focused on a totally new line of work: nature restoration.

Angie: Yeah. So I work out in the fields, just pulling invasive species and replanting new growth, in hopes to have a healthier forest.

Josh: One of the reasons Angie was drawn towards this job?

Angie: You don't have to talk to anyone all day long if you don't want to. And I'm like, thank you! I like that. (Laughs.) 

Josh: Mason Patrie, the guy Michael, Taylor and Niko liked to tease a lot at the diner, is currently working for a communications company splicing fiber optic cables for internet.

Michael Alvanos, former co-owner of the Guilty Plate, is finally a full-time architect. He runs his own practice in Shelburne.

Michael: I mainly do single family and multifamily residential.

Josh: And he says his parents, George and Christine Alvanos, are now retired. I tried to talk to them for this episode but they politely declined.

Meanwhile, Taylor Courville, who spent nearly half his life working in restaurants with the Alvanos family, now works in sales for a company called Cintas. He mainly rents uniforms to businesses like mechanic shops and science labs …

Taylor: … and a lot of it's actually to restaurants. Chef coats and aprons and stuff like that…

He also had his first baby during the pandemic.

Taylor: Yes. And I just had my second one about eight weeks ago.

Josh: Congrats.

Taylor: Two under two.

Josh: Geez.

Niko: And he’s got two dogs.

Taylor: And two cats … they come in twos. (Laughs.) 

Josh: Nick “Niko” Sobolev capitalized on all those conversations at The Guilty Plate about black holes by getting his physics degree from UVM. He actually spent his last four years at the diner moonlighting as a student.

Niko: If the pandemic happened, or didn’t happen, I probably would still be working at the diner. I got the physics degree just to get the degree, more or less. I didn’t really have a job plan after that.

Josh: But he always knew he never wanted to work in a different restaurant.

Niko: For me, at least I was like, I'm not going to be able to hit that lightning in a bottle, you know, twice, like we really, I felt we really had something special. And I was like, I don't think I'm gonna find that any other restaurant that I go to.

Josh: Niko recently moved to Delanson, New York where he works as a process engineer for GlobalFoundries.

Of course, the pandemic didn’t change everything. Much of the former diner staff is still in close contact.

Angie: Even right now, I mean, a year and a half or so after me moving away from, I'm still in contact daily, weekly, you know, with with this tight group. Which is really hard to find because I'm not, I don't even stay in contact with, you know, people from my hometown. So, it's like, to find this group that just meshed so incredibly well together, regardless, like is insane. Yeah.

Michael: Nowadays, I think I am far more I'm far more apt to look at things in a short term basis because of the results of COVID or the, or the pandemic in general. You know, in hindsight, I think wow, what an idiot I was to think that things would go on forever the way that they did. And I just don't think that way anymore. You know, things truly do have a beginning, a middle and an end. And I'm very grateful, you know, that I was able to be part of something that I think these guys, you know, were part of too and we had an extraordinary time with it.

Your listeners should know, if ever your family member comes up to you and says, “You know what'd be a great idea? To run a restaurant,” I want you to run as far as you can. But the thing about it is, if it's done well, and you can run a restaurant with your family or amazing people you have this sort of superpower. Because no matter what comes, you know, you have three or four different people that are, like, ready or ready to go down that foxhole with somebody and that's amazing thing to have. So with us, we just got very, very, very lucky.

Josh: Do you guys have similar types of relationships with your current co-workers now?

Niko: No, absolutely not.

Taylor: I think we would have been let go by now.

[CREDITS]

Nora: This episode of Last Seen comes from an awesome show about Vermont called Brave Little State.

Brave Little State is Vermont Public's show that answers questions about Vermont that have been asked and voted on by the audience. It’s people powered journalism.
And you should definitely go check it out. There are new episodes every other week, and you can get it wherever you get your podcasts.

For the original version of this story, and to hear previous episodes of the show, check out their website, bravelittlestate.org.

Josh Crane reported and produced this episode, and did the mix and sound design. Editing and additional production from Lynne McCrea and the rest of the Brave Little State team: Angela Evancie, Myra Flynn and Mae Nagusky. Music by Blue Dot Sessions and X-TaKe-RuX.

Coming up next on Last Seen — the first of a three part mini series investigating the fallout of an unsolved homicide in Boston’s Haitian community.
Thanks for listening.

Josh Crane Twitter Producer, Podcasts & New Programs
Josh is a producer for podcasts and new programs at WBUR.

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