It's been awhile since there was life and good cheer in the old Chestnut Woods restaurant in Grahamsville. But this spring, a marvelous thing happened: the lonely building on Route 55 began bustling with life once more, in the form of the Eureka Market and Cafe.
With a few months of operation under its belt, the Eureka Market and Cafe is earning a devoted following among both tourists and locals in and around the tiny hamlet of Grahamsville. Whether you're a junky for fresh bread, a wi-fi-seeking coffeehouse type, or just somebody with a yen for delicious brunch (the cafe serves real local maple syrup steeped with blueberries), the Eureka's got something for you. This weekend, they're hosting a little outdoor farmers' market, to coincide with the Grahamsville Little World's Fair.
We had a chat recently with owner (and serial entrepreneur) Jennifer Grimes, who already runs a couple of tidy local businesses: Country House Realty, and Red Cottage Inc., which rents high-end homes to weekenders. Grimes told the Watershed Post that the Eureka Market exists today partly because she needed an office for her other businesses, and ended up buying a little bit more building than she needed.
Moral of the story: The Catskills have a way of bringing out the multitasker in people. (We can relate.)
Watershed Post: Tell me about the Eureka Market. What do you do best?
Jennifer Grimes: The idea was to provide a source for things like local produce, local maple syrup -- the maple syrup comes from down the road, from the Catskill Mountain Sugarhouse.
Everything is either local or all-natural or organic, but we're not Nazis about it. We have a selection of good tasty dips and what have you. We carry chicken from Murray's, we get ground beef from a farm in Stone Ridge. And we started a bakery. We recently introduced Cutie Pies, which are singe-serving small pies. And mini-pies and regular size pies. Those fly. Lots of naughty food, basically. And we sell a huge amount of fresh bread from Flour Power in Livingston Manor.
We're very friendly with a lot of our suppliers. It's nice to be in cahoots with them.
WP: What niche are you filling?
JG: I know what I miss, having lived in the city, and I know what my homebuying clients ask me as we drive around looking at property. The lifestyle questions they ask usually involve, "Where do you buy your food?" To which I usually answer, "About half an hour away, in Liberty or Ellenville." And they ask, "Where to you go out for dinner?" And I list places that tend to be 20 minutes away. In the winter, that can be a tough drive.
I also have vacation renters. Within about a seven-mile radius from here, I rent approximately 60 beds. I know there are not a lot of places in this immediate area where they can spend their money.
WP: Grahamsville is tiny even by Catskills standards -- you're the only restaurant in town, right? What does having the cafe and market in town mean to year-round locals?
JG: A very important component for me, from the beginning, was that it would be a place where you can see neighbors, where you can sit with a cup of coffee and linger and use our wifi. I love seeing people bump into other people they haven't seen in while. And the reaction I get from people when they come in the door -- they clutch their chests and say, "Oh, we have needed this for so long." I love the high drama of that. I think when they walk in and see fresh bread, their hearts start beating faster.
I think it'll really come into play in the winter, when it's dark at 3:30 and you want some social interaction. We're trying to create a cozy atmosphere where people can come for a pasta dinner on a Thursday night.
WP: And now you're doing grocery delivery, too.
JG: Having groceries already in your fridge when you get up here, for some people, is a dream come true. It's similar in principle to Fresh Direct, and for a lot of people in New York City, that is the way you get your food. At the moment, our territory is not so huge. It extends through Neversink and Denning, and then into the edges of Liberty and Napanoch. If the local market starts showing a real interest in that, I'll look at that again. I think it might be popular with locals in the winter, especially the elderly who don't want to go out.
WP: How do you manage all these businesses? You wear all the hats, right?
JG: [Laughs.] I'm trying to wear fewer hats. I'm trying to be the big-picture person.
7991 Route 55, Grahamsville. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, pizza, and baked goods as well as selling market items and crafts from local artisans. 845.985.5152. More info (and a snappy little blog) at eureka-market.com.