Dog Team Tavern

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Dog Team Tavern
Dog Team Tavern is located in Vermont
Dog Team Tavern
Location 1338 Dog Team Tavern Rd., Middlebury, Vermont
Coordinates 44°3′51″N 73°10′24″W / 44.06417°N 73.17333°W / 44.06417; -73.17333Coordinates: 44°3′51″N 73°10′24″W / 44.06417°N 73.17333°W / 44.06417; -73.17333
Built 1936
Architectural style Classical Revival
NRHP Reference # 02001381
Added to NRHP November 21, 2002[1]

The Dog Team Tavern was a restaurant that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was located on Dog Team Road, off U.S. Route 7, roughly four miles north of the town of Middlebury, Vermont in Addison County. It is located geographically in the Champlain Valley of the Appalachian Mountains. The restaurant burned down in early September 2006, destroying artifacts[2] of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Mission and Labrador handicrafts.

The rustic restaurant was a local landmark known for its sizable portions (most notably the prime rib) and the "relish wheel," which typically contained corn relish, apple butter, horseradish cottage cheese, beets, and sauerkraut. Also, the restaurant's famous sticky buns[3] were always served at the beginning of each meal. The restaurant was very popular among students from the nearby Middlebury College, who often flocked there with family during the college's fall family weekends.


The Dog Team Tavern was originally constructed in the 1920s by Sir Wilfred and Lady Anne Grenfell.[4] The building was originally a mission house that was started by Grenfell and his wife in 1931. The Dog Team Tavern was opened in 1936 as a tea house and outlet for handicrafts from Newfoundland and Labrador. Earlier in 1931, Sir Wilfred and Lady Anne retired to Charlotte, Vermont, where they built Kenloch House. In 1934, the couple opened a Dog Team Tea House in Ferrisburg, Vermont, and about that time they opened houses in Oxford and Guilford, Connecticut. When Eben and Catherine Joy purchased the Dog Team Tavern from the International Grenfell Association (of New York City) in 1946 they opened it as a restaurant, adding a bar/tavern later when they were able to obtain a license in "dry" New Haven.[5]

Eben Joy, and his second wife, Eileen, sold the Dog Team Tavern to Andrew Golbert of Burlington, Vermont (now of Essex Junction), in 1978.[6] Andrew Golbert sold the DTT to Chris Hesslink and Robert Mahoney in 1987, with Mahoney leaving the business circa 1996/97, when Hesslink reorganized and continued the business until it burned on September 1, 2006.[5] Hesslink's body was recovered from the fire.[7]

The Dog Team has catered to celebrities such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Frost,[5] Charles Lawton, Neil Diamond, Michael Eisner and more. Originally, the staff lived upstairs as the restaurant was only open in the summers. Later, it was open all year. There was a small building next door which of late has been used as a gift shop; but in previous times it was known as The Dog Team Playhouse, and several shows were put on there.

The tavern was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, and it appears to be still listed on the Register, despite the fire.[1]

Among the treasures lost in the 2006 fire were a Grenfell overcoat donated by Arlene LaFave, a Grenfell snowsuit for a child, a huge collection of old political buttons, a beautiful Victorian period dollhouse, an old handpainted sign for orange soda, the hide of a wallaby and the head of a bear, two Grenfell throw pillows with the face of a husky embroidered on each one, original posters and articles detailing Sir Grenfell's work and lectures, two oil paintings by different artists of the restaurant, one painting of Sir Wilfred Grenfell, a marble statue of snow drifts with a little dogsled and dogs and at least a dozen unique Grenfell silk mats.

Customer service[edit]

The Dog Team had an unusual system of serving. Upon arriving at the restaurant, the menu was presented on a board just inside the entrance way. Customers gave their names and orders at that time, and went inside the building to wait. Waiting times of an hour or more were not uncommon during busy times.

Customers could wait within the front parlor, where old overstuffed couches were provided along with old copies of such magazines as Life and Saturday Review, or they could go through the serving area to the bar and wait there while enjoying horseradish cottage cheese dip with ridged potato chips.[8] There was also an outside porch and in earlier years a gazebo and tables set up in the back by the rushing New Haven River. Benches out front read "Vermont Democrats" and "Vermont Republicans".

Much has been made about their relish wheel and sticky buns (which were strictly rationed, although often purchased to take home), but they also served little loaves of homemade bread and a fresh salad featuring a choice of three of their own dressings (including an "Alsatian" French). This did not include the appetizer (typically a glass of juice or soup du jour) which customers ordered when they came in. First-time customers were usually full before the entrees even arrived. Food was served family style, with mashed potatoes and the vegetable du jour. There was also a dessert menu.


  1. ^ a b Staff (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Burlington Free Press Article.
  3. ^ "Dog Team Tavern Sticky Buns". WCAX. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dog Team Fire And Fatality Brings Many Irreplaceable Losses". The Valley Voice. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Hunt 1--Dog Team Tavern in Middlebury 7/23/11". Addison County Ghost Hunters. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "UPDATE: Hesslink's body identified; blaze termed suspicious". Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ "UPDATE: Hesslink's body identified; blaze termed suspicious". Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Cottage Cheese Horseradish Dip". Just a Pinch. Retrieved 23 March 2014. 

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