Tip Top Cafe in WRJ Is Now Thyme

After more than 10 years as a top-notch restaurant in White River Junction VT, Tip Top Cafe has changed its name. It is now called Thyme.

According to owner Eileen McGuckin, the former name was no longer descriptive of the current restaurant. "Cafe" evokes coffee and simpler food. Over the years, Tip Top, now Thyme, has become a dining destination with a professionally-trained staff and refined menu. Also, McGuckin, who purchased the restaurant almost four years ago, wanted her restaurant to have a name that she herself had chosen. She thinks the name change will bring new energy; White River Junction VT, always said to be "up and coming" with its emphasis on the arts and a variety of good eating establishments, is riding a wave of new beginnings.

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Thyme will remain familiar to its patrons. The name change means it's a little different and much the same. McGuckin is clear that " . . . our goal remains . . . that the dining experience of our guests measures up to our own expected level of excellence." The new name will correspond to a rollout of a fresh summer menu. Thyme's offerings--locally sourced and seasonal--have routinely changed throughout the year. McGuckin says customers have their favorites which will always have a place on the table at Thyme: tomato basil bisque, sesame pork and ginger meat loaf, and yes, that cone of French fries. Hours and staff will remain the same.

Your table at Thyme awaits.

The restaurant's location, The Tip Top building in downtown White River, was the Tip Top Bakery, where bread was made beginning in the 1940s. In 2001, developer Matt Bucy was renovating the building to provide the Upper Valley with office space and artists' studios. John Quimby, former chef-owner of Middlebrook Restaurant in Fairlee VT, inquired about opening a restaurant on the site. In 2004, Bruce MacLeod (now owner of Norwich's Carpenter and Main) took over the restaurant and renamed it Low Brow. A year later, Eric Hartling bought the restaurant and restored the original name--Tip Top Cafe. McGuckin managed the restaurant under Hartling for 5 years and then purchased the business in August, 2013.

Some herbs and lettuces are super-locally sourced, from the patio. Radiator in the background.

Thyme is a relaxed place for lunch and is abuzz in the evenings. It's an especially convenient stop for pre-theater dining on nights when Northern Stage, the Engine Room, or the Briggs Opera House is open for entertainment. It has even hosted Thirsty Theater, brief one-act plays put on by Northern Stage right in the dining room in a modern take on dinner theater.

McGuckin has been sprucing up the restaurant with some fresh paint and new cushions. As for the patio, I couldn't bear it if the old repurposed radiators weren't going to survive the name change and tweaked décor. She assured me that the radiators will remain.

Yes, those fries . . .


I write about the arts and other interesting things in the Upper Valley. Please sign up to receive an email each time I post something new by clicking here.  To view my profile page or to read previous posts, please click here.

Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge

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