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A Culinary Batman and Robin: The Skinny Pancake and The Chubby Muffin

By Kelly Church

Back in 2003, Benjamin Adler started his restaurant career by building a crepe food cart out of wood scraps taken from parents' kitchen floors and an old sailboat trailer. After four years of traveling and serving food, Adler decided it was time to open a storefront that held tightly to his belief of sourcing local food products.

The result? The Skinny Pancake, a restaurant focused on serving an eclectic menu of crepes and other dishes. A second restaurant, called The Chubby Muffin, followed in 2010.

"The Chubby Muffin is the Robin to our Batman," Adler says. "It means that The Chubby Muffin is a 'sidekick' brand. The Skinny Pancake really is our hero and our focus, but we love The Chubby Muffin, too."

By purchasing local, raw materials, Adler says that The Skinny Pancake is able to both support the area's economy and serve more delicious, healthy food to the community. "When we chose to open a restaurant, we started the process of digging deeper into our mission of buying local," Adler says. "Today we buy one million dollars in local raw and value added product."

The Skinny Pancake and The Chubby Muffin source their food from the same local farms. Together, they provide business to more than forty farms across the state of Vermont. Adler predicts the restaurants' food needs and pledges himself to growing contracts with farmers to ensure that they remain in line with their purpose even during the rough winter months.

As for the choice in specialties, Adler says he initially chose to focus his food cart on crepes due to the food's inherent neutrality and simplicity.

"I love crepes because they are a tabula rasa, a blank slate," Adler says. "You can 'paint' the flavors onto that canvas, from cheese to chicken to chocolate. I also love crepes because they are so versatile. From breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, they are a great option for a meal."

And not only are they versatile, but they allow for a comfortable business venture as well. Adler describes The Chubby Muffin as being quainter than The Skinny Pancake, but both places allow for counter-ordering and faster service than a traditional sit-down restaurant. Based on their numbers, people are loving what they're getting at both restaurants. The Skinny Pancake has been recorded as the restaurant in Vermont that supports the most local farmers and producers, with 69.8% of their purchases going to local sources.

"Our commitment to locally sourcing certainly sets us apart from a lot of the competition," Adler says. This tremendous amount of support to the local Burlington economy falls right into place with the company's commitment to "doing good by doing good business."

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