Since 1980, the lines have snaked down Winooski’s Main Street for breakfast and lunch at Sneakers Bistro . If all goes well, that could soon be the case in the evening, too. On March 6, the restaurant began what owner Marc Dysinger terms “the softest of soft openings.” After two weeks of keeping it quiet, he says he and his staff are now offering dinner service from 5 to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
What made Dysinger decide to add dinner after 33 years? The inspiration came as he returned to the restaurant after an evening lecture at MyWebGrocer . “I noticed the block has a really good energy — ours was the only dark storefront,” Dysinger remembers. “We just felt like we wanted to be part of that energy. We always knew that Sneakers dressed up really well at night, and we have a pretty solid talent pool. We finally decided, Let’s make this happen.”
“This” includes a menu of creative takes on classic dishes. Among the appetizers are mussels steamed with Switchback Brewing Company  ale, bacon, green onions and maple mustard. Dysinger says his personal favorite starter is parmesan-crusted, fried artichokes with lemon-garlic aioli.
Main courses include a “lite fare” menu with sandwiches such as a cheeseburger, a falafel and a smoked barbecue pork. Among the bigger plates, fish and chips in Switchback batter has been a hit, Dysinger says.
The dishes top out at $20 (for a char-broiled strip steak); a plate of chicken breast over sweet potato, oyster mushroom and sweet-pea risotto with white truffle oil costs $18. Desserts include crème brûlée, cheesecake and Apple Pie Sizzler, served in a hot skillet with brandy butter.
Dysinger says the menu will change seasonally, with nightly specials keeping things fresh. The owner also hopes to add bluegrass and other music nights, evoking Sneakers’ origins as a live-music venue.