Since I was 15 years old, I've been working in food service. Every job I have ever worked has been in the field, nearly all as a successful manager of a successful business. I've run coffee shops, multiple-location ice cream companies, and retail cheese and provisions stores. I've cooked in restaurant kitchens, I've sold restaurant supplies, I've worked front of house, back of house, and if I'm not working, I'm dedicating my time to reading and continuing to educate myself about the craft of feeding others; my husband & partner James says that I show love through food. Anyone who has worked with me over the years knows that I live for my work, for better or worse, and my work is about sharing my love. I throw myself 250% into every new project, and dedicate myself to it with all of my heart.
James and I find ourselves in the position to finally open our own small restaurant. It's to be southern BBQ the way it's meant to be done - smoked slowly over wood. Patience is a virtue, and this style of cooking is one that should be elevated and shared with as many people as possible. The sides will represent my family's recipes, and it will be designed so that everyone has a seat at the table. It will be the culmination of years of hard work and as my brother put it - "everything you've been working so doggedly to find".
Catskill is a town on the rise, catching much of the overflow of Hudson's explosion of popularity, as well as being adjacent to the ski resorts and summer vacationland of the Catskill Mountains; it is a 2 hour train ride from New York City, it is 5 minutes off of the New York State Thruway. It is small town charm with access to city amenities. It is also wildly underserved by restaurants and bars; on Main St, in a village of nearly 5000 people, there are only three places to get a meal and a cocktail (one of which is only open seasonally), and only two others to get a drink, period. Catskill’s town government is dedicated to helping new businesses take hold, and the influx of newer, younger residents and artists means a population hungry for more accessible food and socializing locations.
We tenuously have a space lined up, which requires no build-out, and comes with a liquor license already attached, but we're realizing that we are completely at the mercy of investors, family, & friends, as traditional bank loans are essentially impossible to procure for startup restaurants. Food service makes millionaires out of no one (except Mario Batali... I am no Mario Batali). We are asking for help to raise money to cover the cost of two smokers, which will get us started, and a little extra to help cover the cost of securing the space. Any additional funding we raise will be used to get the doors open and for opening inventory and operating capital.
We intend to serve lunch and dinner, 5 days a week (7 when we can hire and train enough staff), and keep the kitchen open until 10PM. We'll have a full bar and some seating, but we expect to do a great deal of takeout too. We'll have pulled pork and chicken and sausages every day, and varied specials including fried catfish on Fridays, ribs on Saturdays, and brisket on Sundays. Sides will rotate, and will be a mix of classic southern BBQ and classic Pennsylvania Dutch, so there'll be broccoli salad and pickled beets and eggs and corn pudding alongside mac and cheese and collard greens and cornbread. Food prices will be kept low to invite the whole community, and we'll be offering catering options (including whole pig roasts!) as well.
I don't love the idea of asking for money. It's not who I am. However, I want our BBQ restaurant to feel like a community establishment; one we can all share, for better, or worse. I genuinely believe that by getting this space open, we will be nourishing ourselves, one other, and our village. In divisive times, we need more places to come together and work through our differences over "meat and three". BBQ is a shared experience that feeds the soul as well as the appetite; it can be a tourist attraction and it can be home. Catskill has become our home: help us share our home with Catskill!
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