Most college students wait until after graduation to start their first business, but Bard students Jake Stortini and Jesse Feldmus couldn't wait. Instead of junior-year abroad, they're spending the year in Tivoli, where they own and operate Murray's, a coffee house/restaurant/grocery store hybrid that offers Tivoli residents a place to grab a cup of coffee, get a few hours work done, or pick up a few staples for their kitchen.
The owners' goal was always to fill a specific, and sorely needed, community niche. "There was no place to get coffee," says Storitini. "We wanted to open a place where anyone can come spend hours doing their work."
Good coffee, fresh food, and a pleasant décor consisting of homemade wooden tables and church pews the owners found in an abandoned roller rink have created a pleasant and productive atmosphere. "There's no other place like this in Tivoli," says Sophia Bonami, a Bard student and Tivoli resident. "You can sit here, have a coffee, stay for three hours and no one bothers you."
Stortini and Feldmus originally envisioned just serving coffee and pastries, and although they ended up with a more expansive menu the owners still take particular pride in the coffee, which comes from Philadelphia—it's pretty strong. "We've been told by customers that it's the best coffee in Hudson valley," says Stortini.
Unlike the coffee, the food at Murray's all comes from within a 10-mile radius, thanks to their locavore chef, Amy Lawton. Lawton moved to the area to renovate an old house, and walked into Murray's looking for a job behind the counter. Instead, she found herself single-handedly running the kitchen and creating a menu based on produce from local Hudson valley farms. For breakfast, try the kale and eggs, or the biscuits and sausage gravy (both $9). There's heartier fare for lunch: Chana masala ($10), tempeh reuben slider ($4.50), and pulled pork on grilled ciabatta ($10) are among the dozen entrees available.
Taking a short break from cooking crème brulée and root vegetable soup in the kitchen, Lawton says that Murray's menu would change in the spring.
"Early in the season the first vegetables that pop up from the ground will pop up on our menu." The menu will transform again in May when Murray's starts serving dinner and seating customers in their backyard.
76 Broadway. Open Monday-Friday 7am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm. (845) 757-6003.