Each month the Skinny Pancake will give you a behind the scenes look at an employee who embodies the missions and values of the Skinny Pancake. This month, we’re excited to introduce you to Chris von Staats!
Chris von Staats live at Skinny Pancake’s Jazz Night, Tuesday evenings 7-9pm
Chris von Staats, the Skinny Pancake’s Bar Manager, is a man of many talents.
From his creative, locally-inspired prohibition era cocktail creations, to his professional, industrious demeanor managing the Skinny’s bar, and his musical talents (including great vocals and lightning-fast fingers on the guitar), Chris appears able to do it all with relative ease.
When Chris isn’t serving up craft cocktails with a hat tip to drier times, you can find him commanding the stage with an ever-evolving set list at Jazz Night at the Skinny Pancake’s Burlington waterfront location on Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm.
We spoke with Chris on Jazz Night to learn more about what it’s like working for the Skinny Pancake, and what keeps him motivated, movin’ and groovin’.
The Skinny on Chris von Staats and Jazz Night
Chris describes an evening at Jazz Night as a “sophisticated night out on the town,” and a “throwback to an older time.” W ith cocktails from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and von Staats’ group playing Billie Holiday in the background, it’s clear why:
Jazz night special cocktails
Ward 8: rye, lemon juice, orange juice, house-ma de grenadine, homemade maraschino cherry
Casino: Gin, Lemon juice, luxardo maraschino liqueur, housemade orange bitters, lemon, rosemary
SP: It must be interesting pouring drinks one night and playing jazz the next… What’s it like to work at the Skinny Pancake both as an employee and a performer?
CVS: It’s definitely a fun experience. In many ways, it makes me feel so much more connected to the Skinny Pancake. At my place of work, I get to do all the things I want to do. It’s a pretty sweet situation. Also, it’s funny how sometimes the lines are blurred for when one job starts and the other one begins…
On Jazz Night, when I am playing, I’m still coming up with cocktail specials and making sure the bar and everything else is all set. Sometimes, I’ll be playing and one of the staff who knows I’m a manager will come over and say something like, “Hey we need your help! The dishwasher broke!”
And I’ll run back during a set break and go and fix the dishwasher. Or when I am bartending here, if the band is having trouble setting up the sound, I’ll run out and help them set up the sound because I know how to do it.
It’s become where playing here and working here are both a part of my job, and I love it.
Chris von Staats live at skinny pancake’s jazz night, Tuesday evenings 7-9pm
Chris von Staats Mixing up something special
Skinny Pancake (SP): Why do you love working at the Skinny Pancake?
Chris von Staats (CVS): The core values of the company are all things that I love, too. There’s a lot of pride in the stuff that we [Vermonters] make here. For instance, one thing I try to do is make everything in-house. We just started making our own maraschino cherries, our own house grenadine, and our own house bitters—we’re doing everything from scratch.
We’ve also got 10 draught lines of local beer, and plenty of local top-shelf spirits. We’re using local produce and juices when possible in our cocktails, too. I love supporting that and being a part of that, and the Skinny Pancake does too… It’s local from the ground up, and that’s one of the things I love about working at the Skinny.
SP: If you were stranded on a deserted island with a group of people and could only serve one drink, what would it be?
CVS: It would be a “Singapore Sling.” We’ve run it here as a cocktail special before. It’s an old drink from the early 1900s, with a ton of ingredients; it’s a tiki drink. It’s a great example of a well-made, old cocktail that’s still one of the best. And, there are enough ingredients in it, eight in total, to hopefully sustain all of us on that island for a bit.
SP: What’s your favorite crepe and locally-inspired beverage?
CVS: The Jonny crepe, for sure. I order that almost every day. Also, the Crepedilla with the local, braised beef can last me three meals sometimes. I love that as well.
In terms of a beverage, when I started as the Bar Manager, of course, I was all about cocktails, and rarely thought about beers. And now, lately, I’ve really been loving beer. I’ve become somewhat of a beer snob [laughs]. I’m always trying to bring in new, different local producers, and experimenting with flavors and styles.
SP: If you were going to talk with someone who didn’t know much about the Skinny Pancake, what would you tell them?
CVS: I’d want them to know the Skinny Pancake is so much more than just a restaurant. The Skinny’s connections and roots run deep. We support so many local producers, and we support programs and initiatives that are something to be proud of as well, like 1% for the Planet and Green Drinks.
Also, Skinny Pancake has an incredible connection to the town [of Burlington], and Vermont as a whole. There’s a huge number of employees that work here, with all of the different branches throughout Vermont, and now Hanover. I can’t go anywhere in town without running into one of us!
Come on down to Jazz Night Tuesdays from 7-9pm at the Skinny’s Burlington waterfront location to see Chris von Staats throwing it back to an earlier time.
Thanks to Chris for having this interview, and for being such a rockin’ employee of the Skinny Pancake!