A new phase is beginning in which millions of people are slowly starting to venture out of their homes again after being confined for months. Restaurants are among the many establishments that have begun to reopen to the public, with new rules and restrictions of course. Social House, also known as “SoHo,” in Manchester Center, Vermont is thriving despite the hardships many businesses are facing, thanks to the efforts of owner and managing partner Luis Pazos, his wife Debbie and their team.
Pazos began working in the hospitality and culinary world to help pay his way through college. He started out as a waiter in New York City and worked his way up to a floor manager position at the prestigious Le Bernardin, a Michelin three star restaurant. He fell in love with the industry, started making good money, enjoyed meeting new people and gained valuable experience that allowed him to become successful.
Social House is a casual, trendy restaurant for all age groups. They are seafood based, but offer a selection of other dishes, like housemade pastas and hand crafted cocktails. At Social House guests can expect fine dining quality food, but in a laid back and comfortable environment.
A unique feature of Social House is that their menu is ever changing. New specials are added daily, up to five or six items, thanks to executive chef Kyle Garell who was born and raised in New England. “Seafood has always been my thing,” he said. The constant changes are to keep their regularly returning guests engaged. They provide a wide array to choose from for those who visit them up to two or even three times per week. “We want to keep the guest intrigued,” said Pazos.
Their summer menu is bright, fresh and clean, featuring local vegetables and edible flowers. Garell incorporates the ingredients offered by local vendors, fishermen and farmers. Each batch of fresh ingredients supplies him with a three day window to create new dishes, like Spanish octopus with a roasted peach honey sauce and chorizo. Specialty cocktails are also curated to complement the menu— a refreshing peach mojito goes along nicely with the Spanish octopus dish. His creations require a lot of experimentation or as he described the process, “playing with our food.”
This creativity is what helped Social House survive when the nation wide pandemic hit. They never closed down. Instead, they kept their business afloat by offering takeout options. At first they started with a pop up Chinese menu, which was a huge hit with customers because there’s not a lot of Chinese restaurants in their immediate area. “We started filling in the gaps,” said Garell. They hosted other themed dinners, changing the menu every few weeks. Their constant communication and flexibility has been the key to their success.
The community rallied around them during the collective time of uncertainty. Pazos previously worked at a ski resort in Vermont where he built genuine relationships. Those customers and friends have now followed him to his own restaurant. These are the patrons that supported them through the lockdown. “We’ve been very fortunate during and after the shutdown,” Pazos said.
Less than a year after their grand opening they are opening up again. They are following all of the necessary guidelines to take the first steps into slowly coming back. Getting people comfortable to come out to eat again is going to be the main challenge. As of now they are only allowed up to 25 percent occupancy inside of their restaurant, but are also able to offer outdoor seating which they assure is spaced out and safe. “The patio is very spacious, sexy, delicate to the eyes,” said Pazos. They’re seeing a spike in outdoor guests as people are excited to go out again, especially since the weather has been nice.
Pazos and his wife Debbie want their restaurant to be a place where people come to socialize, which is why they chose the name Social House. They also wanted a catchy name for the abbreviation; “SoHo” actually refers to their New York roots. They have created an extremely inviting atmosphere where new friendships can begin and grow. “There’s something for everyone here,” said Debbie Pazos. “We want this to be a home away from home,” said Luis Pazos.