AOC, Sanders Dine at Burlington’s Penny Cluse Café – Seven Days

click to enlarge Molly Gray and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday morning at Penny Cluse Café in Burlington. - COURTESY OF MOLLY GRAY

  • Courtesy of Molly Gray
  • Molly Gray and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday morning at Penny Cluse Café in Burlington.

It’s not uncommon to bump into Burlington’s favorite son, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), strolling down Church Street or grocery shopping at Hannaford. But it’s not every day that the presidential candidate is spotted brunching in the Queen City with an even bigger liberal superstar.

That was the case Saturday morning when U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — aka AOC — joined Sanders, wife Jane O’Meara Sanders and campaign manager Faiz Shakir at Burlington’s Penny Cluse Café.

According to owner and chef Charles Reeves, who was working in the kitchen that morning, Sanders is a semi-regular and “usually gets the buckwheat pancakes with blueberries.” Ocasio-Cortez ordered scrambled eggs with rye toast and home fries, Reeves reported.

“They’re totally regular people when they eat,” he said of Sanders and O’Meara Sanders. “And we don’t make a big deal about it.”

What was up for discussion Saturday morning was less clear. Sanders’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment and Seven Days could not reach an Ocasio-Cortez spokesperson, though her office confirmed the meeting to CNN.

Ocasio-Cortez is widely seen as one of the most influential liberal politicians in the country — and her endorsement would be a big get in the Democratic presidential primary. Before she unseated a veteran member of Congress in 2018, she volunteered for Sanders’ 2016 campaign. She has also worked with and praised Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another presidential contender.

“What I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN in May. “I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that.”

click to enlarge Vice President Joe Biden holds up coins he found outside Penny Cluse Café Friday morning in Burlington. - POOL: GLENN RUSSELL/BURLINGTON FREE PRESS

  • Pool: Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press
  • Vice President Joe Biden holds up coins he found outside Penny Cluse Café Friday morning in Burlington.

AOC isn’t the first visiting pol to drop by Penny Cluse. Then-vice president Joe Biden dined there with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter in October 2016. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also made an appearance.

Burlington resident Molly Gray arrived at Penny Cluse Saturday morning as the congressional party was departing.

“It was an incredible surprise to run into someone who has inspired so many women and girls to engage in public service,” she said of Ocasio-Cortez. “I hope that Vermont will have an opportunity to invite her back soon.”