- Brian Cronin
It reads like the pitch for a ‘90s rom-com: A young American woman abroad on the sunny coast of Australia meets a local man, falls in love, skips her return flight, and gets married. Fast forward 10 years, the couple move back to America, open a small-town café, and live happily ever after. Fin.
Though without any of the nuances, plot twists, and idiosyncrasies of real life, this is essentially the story of Andrea Shilling and Cameron Price, who took over ownership of provisions market Tivoli General in March. The pair moved back to the US in 2021 to be closer to Shilling’s aging parents, who retired in Tivoli.
“We had absolutely no plans for what we wanted to do work-wise—we had plans to travel around America first,” says Shilling, who after a decade in Australia, has a light, lovely lilt. “Then we heard through word of mouth that the previous owners of Tivoli General were interested in selling. We did love the shop before. It was fantastic. A great selection of products, great breads, and supported a lot of great local farms.” The move wasn’t totally random, Price had spent close to 20 years in the specialty coffee industry back in Australia and Shilling has her own hospitality experience from bartending to hotel work.
So they met with the previous owners, Natalie and Kazio Sosnowski, who had run the shop since 2015, and hit it off. “We were in the right place at the right time,” Shilling says. All plans for the road trip went out the window as the couple shifted gears, getting the keys in early March of this year and re-opening a few weeks later after minor renovations.
The main change, aesthetically and conceptually, marks a shift away from the previous, purely retail concept and toward dining. “There was a huge demand for breakfast in the area,” Shilling says. “Nothing was really open before 10, 11am. So we really wanted to offer that to the community. We got rid of some of the shelving to add some more indoor seating and create more of a cafe vibe, even though I don't like to call it a cafe.” An eight-foot high-top community table in the center of the space was made with timber reclaimed from the historic, 1860s barn behind the building and offers ample seating for guests.
The menu was developed in collaboration with chef Ryan Voell, who spent five years working in the kitchen at Hotel Tivoli’s restaurant The Corner down the street. “Cameron and Ryan hit it off really well. He was a friend first,” Shilling says. “They started brainstorming menu ideas and then we kind of roped Ryan in from there. He is fantastic. We have a lot of the same interests—we’re all really inspired by Asian food.”
Some of the more unexpected offerings include a Thai curry soup special last week and the summer-long favorite: salmon poke bowls. “We just introduced soups,” Shilling says. “We leave the specials up to Ryan so he can get creative. It is kind of a testing ground. If we get really great feedback and people are asking for something daily, we’re not opposed to adding it to the regular menu. That’s how we added the pastrami sandwich over the summer.”
Beyond these, deli specialties are the tight core of the offerings—a chicken salad made fresh daily with chickens roasted in-house and served on a sandwich or over greens; tuna salad; lox on sourdough; and a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich.
“We have no stove top, no way to make eggs to order, so we’ve gotten creative. ” Shilling says. “We make a fluffy egg in the oven. It’s steamed, which I think is pretty unique.” The breakfast sammie is served with kewpie mayo and a mild fermented chili sauce and served on a fresh milk bun. Other breakfast options include the avocado toast, served with Meredith’s feta, cilantro, radish, and lemon ($8) and overnight oats, soaked in apple juice and mixed with pecans, almonds, dried fruit, greek yogurt, and topped with fresh berry compote ($6).
All the bacon, eggs, and chicken products sold in the market and used in the kitchen are from Northwind Farms in Tivoli. Other local goodies include pastries like danishes and morning buns from Rosie’s Bakehouse, sourdough bread from Kingston Bread + Bar, cured meat from Lunch Nightly, and cheese and dairy products from Chaseholm Farm, Old Chatham Creamery, Ronnybrook, and Hawthorne Valley. There is also a curated selection of imported goods from Cav Giuseppe Cocco pasta to Fishwife tinned sardines and Fly by Jing chili crisp and pork dumplings.
“We condensed it all,” Shilling says regarding the grocery selection. “We have the best of the best stuff. You can still come in for local eggs and bread and cheese. And we try to stock the basics produce-wise, but we found it was a little tricky with the shelf life. We definitely carry lemons, limes, red and white onions, garlic—staple stuff like that.” Shilling, a ceramicist by trade, runs Open Objects Pottery and was able to make all of the dishware for Tivoli General before reopening earlier this year.
Another addition to the space under the new owners is the Ascaso espresso machine. Tivoli General now offers a full coffee program with beans roasted by Brooklyn-based Parlor Coffee. With a new online ordering system, you can pre-order your coffee and food and have it waiting for you when you arrive.
“From our perspective, folks have been really happy,” Shilling says. “We have a lot of folks on their way to work grabbing a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I think there was a need in the community for a breakfast and lunch spot.”
Tivoli General is open Wednesday through Sunday, 7:30am-5pm, and Monday, 7:30am-4pm. Breakfast is available from open until sold out and lunch runs from 11:30am-2:45pm.