Development board reviews plans for new restaurant in former Café Shelburne site

When the iconic Café Shelburne closed its doors in 2015, Shelburne village lost a landmark eatery that had attracted regular local patrons alongside diners out on special occasions for more than four decades.

While the familiar cottage across from Shelburne Museum is quiet now, a local entrepreneur is working to fill the void in the next couple of months as her plans come together for a new establishment in the same location.

Last month, the Shelburne Development Review Board approved a proposal for a new restaurant on the former Café Shelburne site. The applicant is Charlotte resident Tina Helzer, who hopes to open a 36-seat eatery on the property serving casual fare. Helzer has not yet closed on the property, which is located alongside Harrington’s of Vermont and Arabesque gift shop.

The new restaurant, currently being referred to as 5573 Shelburne Road LLC for the purpose of the application process, is not expected to require many significant physical changes to the building. The board reviewed plans for minor improvements to the exterior, including changes to the parking area, addition of a bike rack, and relocation of an existing planter, according to survey manager Jack Milbank of Civil Engineering Associates in South Burlington, who is working on the project.

The building is laid out with the restaurant space on the first floor and an apartment above. Originally built on Limerick Road in 1898 to be part of Shelburne Farms, it is classified as a historical structure by Shelburne’s Historical Preservation and Design Review Commission. The cottage was moved to its current location on Shelburne Road in 1925.

Café Shelburne made the spot a popular destination from 1969 to 2015, with classic French dishes such as escargots and coquilles St. Jacques.

After Café Shelburne closed, modern Greek restaurant Taverna Khione moved into the space in April 2015, offering a menu of lamb, pasta, and grilled octopus. But the building has been empty since early 2017 when Marc Provencher, owner of Taverna Khione, moved his business to Brunswick, Maine.

The Development Review Board voted unanimously on Dec. 20 to approve the application for Helzer’s new restaurant with a few conditions: a zoning permit is required before any structural changes can be made to the property and any lighting changes and signage also will require permits. The board was expected to sign the permit approval at its meeting this week after the Shelburne News went to press.

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