By Erme Catino
STOWE, Vt. — "It's like kicking the pope out of the f'ing Vatican," says Chuck Waskuch, a photographer and local resident, of the big news here: The Shed Restaurant & Brewery, a renowned ski bum watering hole of the past 46 years, was recently forced out of their property. Naturally, they went out with a bang.
Founded as The Shed Restaurant and Brewery, in 1965, the physical location and property preceded the establishment in local legend. In the 1800s, the building housed Fosters Cider Mill, a place where farmers would bring their apples on their way to church, and picked up their "hard" or fresh cider the following week. The cider house transformed into Camp Idletyme—a variety store, gas station, and hostel where, in the late 30s, a young Sepp Ruschp ran a tennis camp. Sepp, who was also responsible for establishing the Stowe Ski School and the nation's first ski patrol, would later become president of the Mt. Mansfield Company.
Enter two ski instructors, Ken Strong and Ted Ross, in ’65. They transformed the then-neglected building and opened The Shed Pub. Strong bought out Ross in 1967, and The Shed took off. "Around that time there were really no other places for skiers to après, only the Hob Knob," says Howie Faircloth of Green Mountain Distillers. "Kenny just may be responsible for the après ski culture in Stowe."
A devastating fire, in 1994, briefly halted The Shed. But they re-opened with new vigor, featuring their now renowned handcrafted ales, and re-constructed the pub with the original post and beam design.
The Shed appeared to flourish, but behind the scenes owners Ken and Kathy Strong were burdened with financial woes, and five years ago were forced to sell the building to alleviate debt. The couple sold to a private investor, Bill Davis, who also donated a substantial amount of money to help rebuild the pub following the fire. Davis may have helped The Shed then, but it seems that he has different visions for the building now. It all came down to business in the end, and while for some The Shed may be a bottom line investment, for many Stowe ski locals it was home away from home.
The Strongs are currently negotiating for a new restaurant and pub—they still own The Shed name and their tasty brews—but nothing is confirmed yet. What is certain is that the original location will be greatly missed. However, as Kathy notes, "The Shed is all about the people, it was the culture that made this place. Everyone at one point had a job there." Even Chuck Waskuch washed dishes years ago prior to the fire and was hoping to retire and finish right where he started, back in the kitchen. "It really is a travesty," says Kim Brown, another Stowe local. "The Shed was the soul and spirit of the ski community here."
With The Shed having to close their doors, they certainly did so in style. Much like the fiery event that shut them down in '94, on Monday, Oct. 17, bands took over the dining room and Mountain Ales poured out of the taps until they went dry. Multiple generations of the greater Stowe ski community were in attendance.
I can't recall a powder day where I didn't visit The Shed and salute to the snow gods… and many cold, packed granular days for that matter. It is where I met the older crowd, the guys who showed me the ropes around the mountain. I'm not sure what a powder day is going to feel like when I can't head down the road at the end of the day, talk with Chris Strong behind the bar, and listen to roots reggae while my mind wanders through the ski stickers on the roof reminiscing of the day’s bounty. I wish the Strongs the very best, and I think I speak for all skiers and riders who've visited them there, and hope they find a new location very soon.