The owners of the Hen of the Wood restaurants have added a new beast to their barnyard.
The sale of Prohibition Pig restaurant and brewery closed earlier this week, confirmed Eric Warnstedt, who along with William McNeil owns Hen of the Wood restaurants in Waterbury and Burlington, and Doc Ponds in Stowe.
Warnstedt said after some months of discussion with Pig owner Chad Rich, who was mulling some big changes, “it sort of felt like a no-brainer.”
No major changes to the restaurant or brewery are currently planned, Warnstedt said.
“The goal is really to get to know everyone … loop in our value system and the way we like to do business, and set it up for success.”
Prohibition Pig opened in 2012, giving new life to the space formerly occupied by The Alchemist Pub and Brewery, which was destroyed by flooding in 2011 during Tropical Storm Irene. The restaurant soon became a hot spot to cozy up to the bar for a craft cocktail or local brew, or to get a taste of some Southern comfort with a Vermont twist in the form of smoked whole-hog and brisket barbecue, breaded chicken, hush puppies and deep-fried cheese.
“I was born and raised in the South, so Chad and I really connected” on the cuisine, Warnstedt said.
In 2014 the Pig expanded backwards into another historic building on Elm Street, adding a craft brewing operation, an outdoor patio and some much-needed storage space.
Prohibition Pig will be open today during regular business hours after a few days off for housekeeping as licenses changed hands, and diners and drinkers will still be able to order their favorite duck-fat fries, pickled veggies, bacon-loaded mac and cheese, and a vast selection of draught beers and creative cocktails.
The first Hen of the Wood restaurant opened in 2005 on Stowe Street in Waterbury, where it remains one of the top fine-dining restaurants in the state, known for its locally sourced ingredients, imaginative seasonal menus and excellent service. Warnstedt and McNeil opened a second Hen in Burlington in 2013, and launched Doc Ponds, a beer bar with more casual food, in Stowe in 2015.
“There’s an opportunity to do a lot more with the town,” Warnstedt said, and Prohibition Pig can serve as kind of a “command center” for fundraising and other community efforts.
“I’m excited to put more eggs into Waterbury,” Warnstedt said — he lives in Waterbury Center, and between Waterbury and Stowe, “this is where my life is.”