Side Dishes: Blue Donkey owners purchase Rusty Nail Bar & Grille
Kim Kaufman and Jim Goldsmith, owners of the Blue Donkey in Stowe, have purchased their Mountain Road neighbor, the Rusty Nail Bar & Grille. According to Kaufman, the deal has been years in the making. “Seven years ago we tried to buy it from [former owner] Bobby [Roberts]. It just didn’t happen,” she explains. “We tried to buy it from [current owner] Stan [Swierzewski] three years ago, but he decided he was going to run it for a while. This was our third shot at it and [we] got it!”
Current Rusty Nail chef Michael Werneke plans to move on and says he has received more than one offer that will allow him to continue to explore his porky pursuits. General manager Kate Wise, who helped remake the nightspot into a respected gastropub, says she’s excited to take on the new role of bartender at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury.
The current regime will end on October 27 with a Halloween party featuring local band Pleasure Dome. Kaufman says she expects to open the reimagined Nail on November 21, the night before Thanksgiving.
“Our plan is [to] revive the Nail to what it used to be — more of a rocking place with good music, good food and a chill crowd,” Kaufman says. “There’ll be a lot of rock and roll and blues.”
Blue Donkey food and beverage director Kermit Melendez will oversee the new restaurant as well, with current Matterhorn sushi chef Michelle Fuller heading the kitchen. Melendez, who calls the menu “unpretentious and exciting,” says Cajun and Creole influences will be prominent.
Southern-style dishes on an early version of the menu include crawdads in diablo sauce, a fried-green-tomato BLT and decidedly Memphis-style barbecue spareribs.
Kaufman and Goldsmith also have plans to build a fine-dining steakhouse adjacent to the Blue Donkey, but Kaufman says they have postponed the groundbreaking on that project until next year. In the meantime, their plates are sure to be full.