A Rootin’ Tootin’ Western-Style Eatery
When Wendy Piotrowski and Andrew Machanic met, little did they know that a specialty breakfast-and-lunch bakery was in their future. The Vermont area has its fair share of breweries, Italian food, and some Asian-fusion spots, but its dining scene lacked the spicy and adventurous tastes that Andrew loved from working as an executive chef at several Western Dude Ranches.
The couple decided to open The Swingin’ Pinwheel Café and Bakery in Burlington in 2014 to introduce more lively Western dishes to Vermonters. With Wendy’s practical business experience running Burlington’s old Burlington Patra Café and Andrew’s kitchen creativity, they renovated a property that was once Ken’s Golf Shop by turning it into a cozy cooking and dining space with lovely exposed wooden beams and barn boards.
“My many years out west led to a yearning and longing for that type of decor,” said Andrew. “Not having any of that here in Vermont, the first thing that popped into my mind, especially when I saw the space was, ‘We’re just going to go Western.’ Plus, there is ‘Swingin’’ in the name — that comes from country swing dancing, which is something I like to do. We had the “Swingin’;’ we had the pinwheels; we put them together, and it was perfect.”
Their signature specialties include a family recipe of German pastry dough, shaped into pinwheels and topped with fruit preserves. However, they decided to also use that same delicious, flaky pastry dough to make the new invention they call “the wafflini”, which is a cross between a waffle and a panini.
[Opportunities] never gave up and made it work in the end.
It was great.The Swingin’ Pinwheel also features specials not available anywhere else in the city, like Eggs Cassidy: Corn griddle cakes served with house chili, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce. Their Mexican toast is a mouth-watering, homemade honey-oat bread toasted with ham, sliced bananas, eggs, cheddar cheese, mole sauce and sour cream.
The Burlington community fell in love with these trademarked treats so much that this dining hot spot received a nomination for the “Best New Restaurant” in the “Seven Daysies” contest, which lets locals pick the best Vermont businesses for special publication in Vermont’s Independent Voice: Seven Days.
Their customers say: “We’ve lived in Vermont for 18 years. Finally something different than New England breakfast is here, and the staff are so friendly. Andrew is awesome. I love to watch him cook, and the waffles are hands-down the best in Vermont.”
Andrew believes their success is partly due to Burlington’s love of breakfast.
“The weekends have shown that there’s definitely room for more breakfast,” said Andrew. “We’ve gone to maxing out 150 people on a Saturday in a 25-seat restaurant.”
While creating innovative menus and delighting guests has been the icing on the cake, building renovations, which included adding an entire kitchen, were a big investment for the new small business to make.
The couple initially sought funding from big, local banks but they found that larger banking corporations weren’t interested in approving them for any loans. Finally, a friend recommended them to Opportunities Credit Union where they received approval for a small business loan that helped their business vision take flight.
First the couple had to do some considerable demolition work to prepare the foundations for their new space. They built their own wooden tables, installed a new ceiling and oversized menu chalkboard. They finally opened their doors to the public on August 12, 2014 despite the challenges of the renovations, launching a new enterprise. Thankfully, the whole process took less than a year, and the results were well worth it.
Soon their original menu expanded well beyond sit-down meals, take-out pastries and cowboy-style coffee. Now they also sell lots of ready-to-go meals.
“We do a lot of our Foccacia sandwich,” said Andrew. “We also make a lot of stuffed popovers, which are easy to take out; and also, the ‘wafflinis’ are easy to go. Yesterday, we had a bunch of french toast and ‘Waffles for Waylon’ going out.”
The staff of The Swingin’ Pinwheel has grown quickly too. They now have a staff of seven employees and plan on hiring two additional cooks for the busy summer season.
Andrew especially appreciated that throughout the process of financing their first new restaurant, Opportunities Credit Union, ” … never gave up and made it work in the end. It was great.”
Andrew and Wendy enjoyed working with Senior Business Development Manager, Greg Huysman because he was, and Andrew’s words, “approachable, friendly, and flexible.” That’s why he and Wendy now recommend Opportunities’ services to anyone who dreams of running their own establishment.
What originally began as a vague vision of a mobile food cart working the streets of Burlington, a full-fledged, family-owned bakery and eatery unlike any other in the area was born, and Andrew and Wendy couldn’t be more thrilled. Thanks to the investments they made with Opportunities, their dreams of owning a thriving business became a reality within one year. The only community-development credit union in New England, Opportunities has two branches in both Winooski and Burlington that offer personal loans, mortgages, small-business lending, and deposit and savings accounts.
All these reasons explain why Andrew says he’s going back to Opportunities Credit Union soon to take out a mortgage.
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