A Manhattan couple who honed their craft at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in the Big Apple, is poised to carve out their American dream as first-time restaurant owners in Vermont.
Debbie and Luis Pazos, longtime restauranteurs at the famous French restaurant Le Bernardin in New York City, will open Social House Restaurant in Manchester Center this June.
And while it’s no small step from the Manhattan life, with dinners served at 2:30 AM, to the tall pines and chilly peaks of the Green Mountain Forest, six years of drinking in the local culture and tastes has prepared them for the opening of Social House, where Mediterranean flavors will flow and the local customer will be prized.
“Since moving to Vermont in 2013, I’ve come to understand the tourist customer base in Vermont. I worked for many years at a ski resort here, and it’s the same clientele we’ve served our whole lives,” Luis Pazos says. “What we’re going to do with Social House is different. We plan to focus on the locals, and bring them what they want.”
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, the couple describes their journey.
Q: How did you get into hospitality?
Luis: We met in 2008 at the three-star Michelin restaurant Le Bernardin in Manhattan. I was a captain in charge of one of our five teams on the floor and Debbie was a maître d. I was there for 10 years, and Debbie for 7. We were both born and raised in New York City and always knew we wanted to be in hospitality. Debbie studied for a career in it, but I started off in the hotel industry first, before I went into restaurants.
We loved living in midtown and enjoyed everything about it, from dinner at 2:30 in the morning to Bloomingdale’s in our same block. We never thought about moving until we decided to have a family.
Q: Why Vermont?
Luis: It was actually my brother who convinced us on Vermont. He had moved up here, and after our son was born in 2013, we decided to follow him. We worked and saved for six years before the opportunity own a restaurant presented itself.
Q: How did the opportunity to start Social House come about?
It’s a funny thing. When we first moved here, I picked up a couple shifts at The Brasserie L’Oustau to get my feet wet. Then I got a full-time position at Verde on Stratton Mountain, which is a ski resort catering to the same clientele we served in New York. But the restaurant where I started for those first few weeks was where the opportunity eventually happened. We found out the former bistro was for sale, and it was perfect for us. So, we brought in an investor and purchased it in January of this year.
Q: When you reopen as Social House, what changes will locals notice?
We’ve changed everything! The staff, employees, and food have all changed. We have this amazing chef, Kyle Garell, who is a talented graduate of the New England Culinary Institute , and we’re going for a very friendly vibe, with the overtones of Mediterranean, incorporated with French, Italian, Greek and Latin influences.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge has been finding the right staff. But fortunately for me, I’d developed great relationships with people in the hospitality industry here. The chef, for example, is someone I worked with two years ago. One night, when the main chef was out, he offered to make me a meal. I was blown away with his talent. And so happy to bring him on board at Social House.
Q: How are you getting the word out about your new place?
As we draw closer to the opening we’re getting the word out through social media and word of mouth. Everywhere we go, we let people know we’re opening a restaurant. And we hope to see everyone there! — Social House uses Boxerbrand’s Slenders line in its table presentation. Thank you!