For an Irish pub, there’s a lot more to find at the Red Fox Inn in Bondville, Vt. than four-leaf clovers and pints of Guiness. Working the aprés trifecta of [R430R, Stratton], [R85R, Bromley] and [R225R, Magic Mountain], this place has been a central hangout since 1960. But it’s not just the locale that’s responsible for the steady flow of patrons. Locals and city slickers alike have been piling in for the last 50 years because they know it carries a vibe like nowhere else in the region.
With a nine-room inn, a tavern, a full restaurant and soon a grab ‘n go breakfast stop on the commute to first chair—if there were a niche for tapping into the most niches within one establishment, this place would corner the market. But ask Owner Cindy Logan and she’ll tell you she’s just answering a calling.
“It’s about doing the ordinary, extraordinarily well,” Logan said. “We’re more than your typical bed and breakfast, or bed and brew I guess. We’re a nucleus for the community.”
The family of Bostonians are far more than innkeepers, that’s for sure, and as the fourth owners of the Red Fox they’ve seen it from all sides now.
When they moved to Vermont in 1975, Cindy and her husband Tom worked locally making sandwiches at “The Deli”—a shop on the main drag that served up turkey clubs and beer—and tending bar at the Red Fox. Nine years later they took over the lease and have watched it continue to thrive as a homecoming destination for friends and families; including their own, with three of four children currently on staff.
The Red Fox Inn is housed in a 19th-century red barn that screams vintage Vermont. Photo by Pete Biolsi.
Operated out of a three story barn from the 1800s, later rebuilt during the 50s, it’s more than the kind of place you can saddle up to order a brew and some comfort food with friends. Couples looking for the “rustic and romantic” dining experience will be charmed by the quintessential country restaurant upstairs, complete with barnyard decor and wagon wheels, that’ll serve up anything from whole belly fried clams to braised lamb shank on a given night. Just be sure to save room for a slice of “Ma Bean’s” apple pie—it’s literally the best in the state, and Logan’s got magazine clippings and awards to prove it.
“These pies got inaugurated,” Logan said, beaming and proudly holding out her invitation to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony, where 200 of her pies were served as “a taste of Vermont.”
Ever since the first pie she baked for a friend’s birthday using fresh Vermont apples, she’s been hooked on perfecting the all-American delicacy. It nearly became a side business with the potential to mass produce. But Logan prefers doing it one at a time and she’s pretty confident she could hold the Guiness Book record for number of hand-peeled apples, if she ever had the time to wager.
With the après crowd in mind, the Red Fox upholds a commitment to delivering some of the best live music in the state. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a nearby concert venue where as wide an array of musical culture has graced the stage. Artists from Jamaica, Ireland and New Orleans have made regular appearances. Renowned acts like Trombone Shorty, Irish folk icons The Wolfe Tones, slide guitar legend Sonny Landreth, Cyril Neville (yes, of the Neville brothers) and even Grammy-winning Zydeco master Terrance Simien have all signed the guestbook.
The Inn sells more Guiness than anywhere in the state. Photo by Pete Biolsi.
There’s a house drum set and PA set up in the corner of the tavern, but don’t plan on just whaling away after a few drinks. Local artists can get their shot in a public audition during open mic night every Thursday, where rockin’ pick-up jams are known to bust out.
Despite its many non-Irish offerings, the Logans give distinct pride to their family heritage. Wednesdays are Irish Night and it’s one heck of a place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. They’re the highest seller of Guiness in Vermont and with joint efforts by the town, are responsible for pioneering the oldest—celebrating 38 years in March—and largest St. Patty’s parade in the state. You don’t have to speak Gaelic to feel at home here. Just don your green apparel, order a Car Bomb or two and you’ll fit right in.
Over her years of serving up grub, baking pies and always keeping the customer’s experience first, Logan has never backed down from a calling she felt passionate about. Her newest venture, The Fox Stop, is case in point.
Set to open just in time for the first flakes of the season, the Fox Stop is located in the old site of “The Deli,” which has been vacant since the residing real estate office went belly up. It’s halfway between the inn and the Stratton access road and will serve breakfast, coffee and, of course, pie.
“I don’t see this as any more than a civic calling to get this place back open for the town and its visitors,” Logan said as she raised the first cup of cappuccino brewed at the new cafe. “Plus, I think we’re gonna sell a ton of pie and that’s fine by me.”
The Red Fox Inn, and the Logan’s, radiate a “homeyness” that’s infectious to regulars and folks just escaping the city for the weekend. Whether you come for the food, the music or the night, the vibe is one that’ll bring you back again. And if you happen to like pie, it’s not a bad place for that either.
The Red Fox, complete with bails of hay and wagon wheels, oozes rustic charm. Photo by Pete Biolsi.
Open daily at 5 p.m.
Winhall Hollow Road
Bondville, VT 05340