- The kitchen at Silvia, fomerly the Joyous Lake, in Woodstock.
What came first: the chicken or the egg? Business or tourism? Over the last decade, as gentrification has shoved New York City residents around and the incidence of concrete claustrophobia has reached an all-time high, the rivers and ridges, charming towns, and mom-and-pop shops of upstate New York have taken on a fresh gleam.
In 2016, tourism spending in the Hudson Valley climbed three percent to hit a record high of $3.5 billion. The Airbnb bubble continues swelling while home sales are through the roof. People are not just visiting; they are falling in love and pulling up stakes to be here. Longtime residents and closet entrepreneurs have sensed the change in the wind and are deciding to finally go after their longtime dreams, opening new businesses in the Hudson Valley It's a dynamic moment to be living in the region as the kinetic buzz of new energy and fresh ideas reverberates throughout the valley.
If you are the kind to get stuck in your same old routine, it's worth looking up and seeing how much the scenery has changed around you. This month, we are spotlighting new businesses in the Hudson Valley.
Woodstock is leading the charge on the fork front with five new grub spots. Silvia offers a New American dining experience in the former Joyous Lake building, now chicly renovated with a large new pergola and deck for outdoor dining. Green velvet booths and marble tables create an elegant ambience to accompany the gourmet food, made with local ingredients from sustainable, GMO- and cruelty-free sources. (42 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock; 845-679-4242)
The Colony, the famed on-again-off-again Woodstock hub, has returned to the scene after a two-year renovation as a watering hole, restaurant, and music venue. The new owners Lex and Neil Howard, both artists, are committed to returning the iconic institution (and the town) to its pre-flower power glory, as a polestar of creatives and collaborators. The Colony is serving up a hearty, unpretentious menu of transatlantic diner-pub fusion food—cheesesteaks, fish and chips, onion rings. Enjoy shows from their balcony or sit at the new hardwood bar. (The Colony, 22 Rock City Road, Woodstock; 845-679-7625)
From the folks that brought you Oriole 9 comes A&P Bar, which specializes in craft cocktails like their signature, A&P Dawa, a muddle of Indigenous apple vodka, clementine, and lime; or the Dungaree with Hudson Baby Bourbon, apple cider, Averno amaro, demerara syrup, and a smoked sugar rim. The food menu is concise but diverse with everything from a grilled fish to pork belly to summer gazpacho. (83 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock; 845-684-5395)
If you have a sweet tooth, don't skip Nancy's Artisanal Creamery on Tinker Street, which serves up gourmet ice cream made in-house using local dairy. Of course, you can find your classic Neapolitan flavors, but Nancy's specialty is unusual seasonal blends like blackberry-basil, honey-fig, and lemon-lavender, which only last as long as the harvest does. (105 Tinker Street, Woodstock; 845-684-5329)
Up the road in Mount Tremper, The Pines harks back to earlier iterations of Catskills vacationing with its rustic lodgings, restaurant, and bar. The menu, however, is anything but old-school. Fresh, seasonal, and curated, the offerings change weekly with no more than seven dishes at a time; 845-688-7311)
In Dutchess County, Rhinebeck has two new eateries. Many people know Aba's Falafel, which has reached regional farmers' market fame. Their success as a pop-up food stand spurred the owners to open a brick-and-mortar location, where they now serve falafel on hot homemade pita, with Israeli sides, and salads like onion and sumac. Best of all? Fill up for under $12. (54 East Market Street, Rhinebeck; 845-876-2324)
On Mill Street in Rhinebeck, The Amsterdam dishes up modern American farm-to-table fare in a 1798 Dutch townhouse. The restaurant delights in straddling the line between upscale and approachable, with an elegant environment, menu specials like confit chicken wings, and the outdoor patio with a bocce ball court and a fire pit. (6380 Mill Street, Rhinebeck; 845-516-5033.)
Lola's Café, a lunchtime staple of Poughkeepsie, has opened a new location in the heart of the village of New Paltz. With subway tiles, wood flooring, and corrugated tin elements, the new spot has a fresh look to match the clean, well-made food. With quick but nourishing offerings like made-to-order sandwiches, salads, veggie bowls, and soups this is sure to become a favorite spot for locals and college students alike. (49 Main Street, New Paltz; 845-255-6555.)
In Catskill, HiLo has turned a retail location into a funky cafe, which moonlights as a bar/art gallery/performance venue. They have a full espresso bar and extensive loose tea offerings, plus breakfast and lunch options like a lox and cream cheese bagel, a ploughman's sandwich, and daily special frittatas. (365 Main Street, Catskill. HiLoCatskill.com)