Amy Buckley '83 at Brown Cow Cafe
What Amy Blomquist Buckley ’83 started as a “niche” place to go for great coffee and homemade food in 2012 quickly blossomed into what many locals—and tourists—consider an essential Bennington hangout spot by Heather DiLeo
What Amy Blomquist Buckley ’83 started as a “niche” place to go for great coffee and homemade food in 2012 quickly blossomed into what many locals—and tourists—consider an essential Bennington hangout spot. At a smattering of outdoor tables or in the cozy leather chairs of its large main room, Café-goers can enjoy maple walnut oat toast with almond butter and banana slices drizzled with local organic honey for breakfast. Or roasted farmstand veggies on a baguette with pesto goat cheese and balsamic reduction for lunch. Thanks to Buckley’s relationship with the Vermont Arts Exchange, the Café offers a “kind of gallery space.”
Buckley, who worked as an artist and for an architect before opening Brown Cow, wanted “fresh, healthy, yummy food—nothing complicated and nothing fried” and knew others did, too. “I always had a garden. I baked from scratch with my kids. There was no place to go and eat in town so I decided I would fill that niche.”
A friend warned Buckley that it would be a lot easier to hang out in cafes than run one, which proved to be all too true. “The first year I was working sixteen hours a day and people would ask if I was having fun. I had a hard time answering yes,” she says.
Although she claims to be taking a step back, Buckley shops daily, getting produce and products from local purveyors whenever possible. “People come to us,” she says, “when they have excess. Right now Clear Brook [Farms, an organic grower in Shaftsbury] is dropping off tomatoes.”
Five years on, Buckley appreciates what she’s accomplished. “It wasn’t my intention to become a wildly popular hotspot that we can barely keep up with but that’s kind of what happened,” she says.
On top of having a successful business, she says, “I’m so much more connected to the community and have made good friends and good contacts.”