Sugarsnap is a farm to table caterer in northwestern Vermont. We have been proudly serving our community since 2003. We are made up of a team of skilled, dedicated and hardworking professionals with many years of catering experience. We love Vermont, and we love showcasing the incredible food and beverages produced here.
At the core of Sugarsnap are four key elements:
1. Our own farm and our network of local growers
We are lucky to have access to world-class suppliers and ingredients. And it is amazing how much more is possible and available now when compared to 17 years ago.
2. Our fantastic team of cooks, servers, and staff members
Our team is always looking to improve, stay on top of trends and be the very best we can be. Every day, this great team makes delicious food from scratch and serves it with style.
3. A complete focus on catering.
We live and breathe catering, and only catering. Our recipes, systems, methods of preparation, safe transport and temperature control, all ensure that our food is exceptional and just as good as you would would find in a restaurant.
4. A belief in partnerships
We know that together we can do much more than alone. Sugarsnap partners with local businesses and nonprofits to help accomplish our mission.
Way back in 2002, I (Abbey Duke) decided to pursue my dream. Up to that point, I'd had an indirect career path working as a journalist, a field biologist and a marketer... all the while dreaming about my own business. So, I quit my job in marketing at Gardener's Supply Company to enter "Abbey Duke University." At ADU, I followed a personalized graduate program whose end goal was to start a business that involved growing produce and selling its end product. I worked for Will and Judy Stevens at Golden Russet Farm in Shoreham; I attended business workshops; I spent a winter in Costa Rica working on an agroecology project. During the summer of 2003, while I was going through the process of renting land in the Intervale and creating a business plan, I got a call from Will Raap from Gardener's Supply. There was a little building at the top of the hill (before coming down to the Intervale) that is for rent, was I interested?
The little building had been a fried chicken wing place and, shall we say, had not been properly cared for. All I saw was the potential. In July, 2003 I signed the lease papers and then I started looking for help. I found that help in two chefs: Kirk and Katie Fiore. Together, we created the business concept of Sugarsnap, renovated the building and got it ready to open. It was a truly bootstrapped labor of love. We even rented a jackhammer to make space for new plumbing.
In December of 2003 we opened. Our original focus was freshly prepared take-home dinners and lunches. We grew steadily over the years and catering became a larger and larger part of the business. By 2008 we had maxed out our tiny space and it was time to make a decision: get a lot bigger or stay the same. Kirk and Katie decided they were ready to do something different, so they left the business in early 2009. And I decided to "go big".
In 2010, I led Sugarsnap through a large expansion, raised money and opened up a catering and commissary kitchen in Technology Park, South Burlington. Since then, we’ve grown significantly and we now offer a full bar catering service. In 2013, almost 10 years after our first day, we closed our original Riverside location. In 2017, we closed our last cafe in order to focus completely on catering.
Partnerships and Cookies
At Sugarsnap, we believe that by partnering with other businesses and nonprofits, we can accomplish much more than we can alone. Here are examples of how we work with other organizations.
Cookies: Since 2011, we have been part of Cookies for Good. In this program, we sell 9 different types of cookies to our catering customers. 35% of all revenue is donated to COTS for homeless prevention programs. Over 10 years, this has raised over $100,000. This program is a result of a partnership between COTS (the nonprofit), Sugarsnap and Cabot Creamery Cooperative. Cabot has provided a tremendous amount of operational and marketing support.
ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. We are the exclusive caterer and venue rental manager of ECHO. It is a wonderful venue right on Burlington’s Waterfront. We work closely with ECHO’s team to build event business and increase the revenue of a valuable community resource.
Rock Point Center. We are also the exclusive caterer at Rock Point. The center is on Rock Point and is owned by the Episcopal Diocese. We work with them to help increase revenue for the center in order to protect and preserve Rock Point.
Sugarsnap During COVID-19
Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Sugarsnap dramatically. Within the span of two days in mid-March, most of our business for the next two months disappeared. What did we do? We stepped back for a couple of days to reevaluate and then we went to work. We launched a new home delivery service called Sugarsnap Market, changed the way we provide catering to businesses, and looked to the community to support donations to vulnerable populations. Our goal was to build a strong business model that would sustain Sugarsnap until the world opens up and events resume.
In June 2020, we started a contract with the state of Vermont to provide meals to people (mostly homeless) that the state is housing at local hotels. That contract has expanded and we are now delivering meals to about 25 hotels in four counties. This contract has enabled us to be operating fully and we have even added a few positions.
While there is a lot of change and uncertainty, in many ways Sugarsnap and our goals haven't changed at all. We are working hard to expand our farm; to increase the amount of local products we buy; to improve our systems and to help everyone succeed. We want to run the very best and efficient business we can. And through being successful, we can give back to our employees, customers, partners and community.