Bove’s is back.
Starting October 5, Vermont’s oldest family-owned Italian restaurant will open its Milton sauce factory doors to dish up classics in an initiative owners are calling “Flashback Friday.”
“We’ll see how this goes,” owner Mark Bove said with a laugh. “If we have a flashback of duress from running the restaurant, we’ll say, ‘It’s limited.’”
Flashback Friday will occur the first Friday of each month and consist of a rotating menu of Bove’s original recipes served in its Milton manufacturing plant dining room, spokeswoman Emily McMahon said. According to Bove, the events will honor Bove’s commitment to affordable family-style dining.
“We have heard from customers that they missed us,” McMahon said. “And we missed them.”
Bove stressed while Flashback Friday is reminiscent of Bove’s Café, it doesn’t signal a reopening of the restaurant, the downtown Burlington landmark that closed in 2015. The event’s success will be gauged via an online ticket purchasing system and will, in part, determine its longevity.
The plant where Flashback Friday will take place most recently entertained loyal customers and friends at a “Bove’s Homecoming” event on Saturday. The celebration marked the company’s return to Vermont after moving its wholesale production wholly in-state.
The event featured food trucks dishing up fare using Bove’s sauces, pony rides, a clown and bounce-house for kids, Burlington-based band Shake and speeches from the Bove family as well as Gov. Phil Scott.
“They’ve given a lot to us as a state,” Scott said, citing the Boves’ contributions as growing the economy, making the state more affordable and protecting the vulnerable.
“The traditions that they carry through with quality says a lot about Vermont,” Scott said. “We value our food, we value that work ethic.”
Although the plant and event space have been open for two years, Bove felt a homecoming event was not appropriate until the company had resettled.
“I wanted it to feel homey,” he said, detailing the time and care that went in to honoring his father’s 75-year-old Burlington space. Remnants from the original dining room fill the new space and old kitchenware breathes once more.
The factory employs two of its original café staff plus four new hires and is currently seeking another worker. While operations have grown to include crafting and packing sauces for other companies and the state’s schools, McMahon said each batch of marinara is still taste-tested for quality by one of the Bove brothers.
“We’ve never forgotten where we’ve come from,” Bove said. “We wouldn’t be here without our supporters.”