If it’s possible for a restaurant to be simultaneously old school and “woke,” then the Wayside, on the Barre-Montpelier Road, is that restaurant. Old school in that it is, well, old—102 years, to be precise, one of just 240-some restaurants in the nation that have reached the century mark in a legendarily tough business. Old school in the glow of the rooftop sign, the large “W” marked in gravel on the hillside adjacent, the counter and booths that say “diner” louder than they say restaurant. But also decidedly modern Vermont-style woke with a commitment to local eggs, dairy, meat, and produce. And, as Montpelier’s first green-certified restaurant, the Wayside lightens its footprints through practices such as composting, diverting sixty-five tons of food scraps from the landfill annually.

Catamount couple Karen and Brian Zecchinelli own and manage the operation, which has been in the Galfetti family since 1966, when Karen’s parents, Eugene and Harriet, purchased the Wayside. Tradition keeps locals coming back to gather around the two horseshoe-shaped counters to drink coffee and talk weather, politics, or the Red Sox. And the menu also draws fans from afar. The New York Times says, “Yankee cooking at its best.” And, just last fall, the Food Network declared The Wayside’s maple cream to be Vermont’s “iconic pie” in a state-by-state survey of the nation’s pie landscape.


Thomas Weaver