Skinny Pancake location in Hanover will not reopen

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 6/4/2020 9:52:27 PM
Modified: 6/4/2020 9:53:11 PM

HANOVER — Restaurants continue to reel in Hanover.

Skinny Pancake, the Vermont chain of crepe restaurants that opened to fanfare in Hanover five years ago, announced on Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic has frustrated its plans to reopen its restaurant and it had closed permanently.

The confirmation officially makes it the fourth restaurant in Hanover to be felled by fallout from COVID-19: Earlier this week Salt hill Pub said it would not reopen its Hanover location and last month cafe Morano Gelato said it had closed permanently as well.

Hanover’s Noodle Station and its frozen yogurt counter The Swirl & Pearl also is not reopening, and the Lebanon Street space will be taken over later this summer by Jewel of India, which has been looking for a new home since Dartmouth College did not renew the lease because it plans to demolish the building.

However, Skinny Pancake in a statement posted on its Facebook page left open the possibility that it might one day renew its search for a new location in town.

“With the economic future of restaurants uncertain, we are putting our pencils down on any immediate efforts to relocate in Hanover,” the company said.

Skinny Pancake was already looking for a new location in Hanover when the pandemic struck and forced it to close.

The company said in its statement that the move was being driven by the desire to find a smaller space that would be more economically viable.

But Hanover had proved an unhappy experience for Skinny Pancake even before COVID-19 leveled the restaurant industry.

The company lost a legal battle last year against its former landlord regarding a disputed purchase option agreement to buy the Hanover Park building on Lebanon Street where the restaurant leased space.

The three-year case went all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which in a 4-0 decision affirmed a 2018 trial court decision that Skinny Pancake’s attempt to exercise an option agreement to purchase the building did not represent an “unequivocal, unconditional” offer as called for under the terms of the contract.

Earlier this year, Skinny Pancake notified the owners of the building, Jim and Susan Rubens, that they would not be renewing their lease when it expires in December. The Rubens agreed to let Skinny Pancake vacate earlier and the restaurant had engaged a commercial real estate broker to find a new location.

Skinny Pancake’s owners, brothers Benjy Adler and Jonny Adler, had high expectations they would find space until COVID-19 changed everything.

COVID-19 nonetheless appears to have tipped over several Hanover restaurants that were already contending with factors peculiar to the town’s economy, according to Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin. Dartmouth students, for example, who in an earlier generation spent a lot of money in town supporting businesses, increasingly have reasons not to leave the campus — and this hurts restaurants and stores.

“The student dining services on campus are very, very comprehensive (talk about one-stop shopping in their Class of ’53 Commons food court) and the dining plans are expensive and mandatory which contributes to reduced undergraduate traffic downtown,” Griffin said via email.

Hanover’s restaurants are trying new things to work around COVID-19-era protocols, such as moving tables onto the parking spaces under tents for outdoor dining and drinking, but downtown stores are more limited in what they can do.

“As for our downtown retailers, I can only imagine it is just touch and go right now. Between our seniors who are basically locked down and no students or faculty, it is not a good time for any of them,” Griffin said. “Frankly, I am more worried about their survival than I am the restaurants.”

Contact John Lippman at

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