By Katy Savage
A new French-style eatery is coming to Mechanic Street in Woodstock this winter.
Zoe Zilian, the former owner and founder of Farmhouse Pottery, is opening her new bistro, called Brasserie, within the next couple months. It will feature cocktails, European tapas, mini-baguettes, local cheeses, and hams imported from Europe, for example.
“It will be a place to unwind or relax — a place for a snack or a light dinner with wine,” Zilian said. Zilian is working with European vendors, as well as local distilleries and cheesemakers to bring her European vision to Woodstock.
The Brasserie building sits near the Kedron Brook across from the Woodstock welcome center. It was formerly Engel & Volkers Real Estate office before it became Sweet & Salty ice cream shop. Zilian bought the 1915 building in August and has since gutted the inside and created vaulted ceilings.
“I had my eye on [the building] for a decade,” she said. “I’ve been drooling over it for many years.”
For Zilian, who is also an interior designer, the aesthetic of her new bistro will be just as important as the food. She’s designing candles with Old World scents, like “many years of men’s cologne,” which she plans to sell. There will be a large hotel-style bar with an old marble piece. Zilian also has a collection of antique paintings for the walls.
Zilian grew up in Camden, Maine. As a lover of travel, she spent summers and winter holidays in Europe as a child, skiing in the Alps and walking the streets of small European towns. Zilian’s older sister lives in Paris and Zilian still travels to Europe frequently. One of her favorite aspects of travel is finding tucked-away destinations that offer an immersive experience.
“When I travel, I always look for hidden gems that are tied to the village,” Zilian said.
Zilian’s concept for Woodstock comes at a time when the town is struggling to provide enough restaurants to accommodate an onset of tourists.
The Woodstock Select Board granted Zilian a liquor license and an outdoor consumption permit in August. Zilian plans to have a fire pit in back of the building with 20 seats as well as 30 indoor seats.
Beth Finlayson, the director of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, said Woodstock still needs more dining options for lunch, and wasn’t sure the new eatery would ease the tension, but she was “thrilled” to see the vacant building in Zilian’s hands.
“I think it’s a great addition to Woodstock — something very different,” Finlayson said.
Zilian sold Farmhouse Pottery in 2020 to her former husband and has been looking to start her own venture.
“I brought [Farmhouse Pottery] to a point where I needed to focus more on the local experience as far as being a creative,” Zilian said. “Farmhouse Pottery became too big. It wasn’t personal to me anymore.”
Zilian also has an interior design business and recently finished renovating her 1800s farmhouse in West Windsor, with exposed beams and a minimalistic design. She said Brasserie will mimic that style.
Zilian’s daughters, ages 11 and 13, are also active in their mother’s new business. They are putting a playlist together and helping create a mock-tail menu.
Most of the feedback from the community has been positive, Zilian said, with the exception of one concern about noise from the outdoor seating. Zilian assured the noise level will be minimal.
“It just felt right and the right timing,” Zilian said of her new venture. “It’s more of an evolution of my life and being an entrepreneur.”