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ArtsRiot in Burlington Reopens With Pizza and a Bar | Food News | Seven Days

click to enlarge Chef-manager Matthew Wagner at ArtsRiot - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS

  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Chef-manager Matthew Wagner at ArtsRiot

The restaurant and bar at 400 Pine Street in Burlington is up and running again under the name ArtsRiot, with local chef-manager Matthew Wagner at the helm.

Wagner and one other employee are currently offering a limited menu Wednesdays through Sundays, from 4 to 9 pm It includes New York-style pizza by the slice, Moroccan BBQ chicken wings, an Italian antipasto salad, and snacks such as fried artichokes and fried risotto balls called arancini — plus natural wines by the glass and bottle, ArtsRiot canned cocktails, basic mixed cocktails, beer on tap, and soft drinks.

Wagner, 36, has worked for a number of Burlington restaurants and caterers. Most recently, he was a production cook at Philo Ridge Farm until it closed its culinary operations in November. He said his goal with ArtsRiot is “to bring life back to a treasured community hub.” While there are no immediate plans for the venue to return to hosting music and other events, he hopes that will happen “over the next few months.”

click to enlarge ArtsRiot - FILE: LUKE AWTRY

  • File: Luke Awtry
  • ArtsRiot

Cofounders PJ McHenry and Felix Wai established ArtsRiot as a South End Arts District food and entertainment hub in 2013. But the road has been bumpy for the business since founders and chef-partner George Lambertson sold it to entrepreneur Alan Newman in July 2020.

Newman, cofounder of Seventh Generation and Magic Hat Brewing and co-owner of Higher Ground, built a distillery in the former ArtsRiot ticket office and launched a line of canned cocktails. But the distillery never fully opened. In August 2022, an ArtsRiot press representative said Newman had “stepped down from his operating role at ArtsRiot” and was “transitioning his ownership and involvement in the business.”

ArtsRiot eliminated regular kitchen hours in fall 2022 and closed by the end of that year. In March 2023, a press representative told Seven Days that 400 Pine Street would host an outpost of PlantPub, a casual vegan restaurant founded in Cambridge, Mass. But by October, that deal had apparently fallen through. James Unsworth of the Howard Space Partnership, which owns the building, told Seven Days the 6,800-square-foot space was available for lease again.

Wagner deferred the question of who currently owns ArtsRiot to Craig Hastings, director of hospitality for the New Hampshire-based Pink Fox Group, with whom the chef-manager is working to relaunch the business. Hastings did not respond to an emailed request for the name of the business owner. ArtsRiot is registered with the Vermont Secretary of State under Speak Easy Arts, which is also associated with the ArtsRiot Distillery, Liquid Arts and Liquid Arts Distillery.

Unsworth declined to say who is paying the monthly rent.