The Katonah Reading Room closes after five years
Danny DeMartino, the owner of Mountain House Pizza built a new takeout window to accommodate customers during the coronavirus quarantine in Sparkill on April 8, 2020. Rockland/Westchester Journal News
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧Coronavirus destroyed the .
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧That's the message Pete and Gretchen Menzies, the husband-and-wife owners behind the 5-year-old community cafe, want you to know. The two also own, a bookstore and coffee shop just down the street.
At the popular gathering spot, moms with strollers were often seated alongside students with laptops and those rushing for coffee before racing to catch the train (remember those days?).
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧The cafe, known for its long menu of salads, sandwiches and coffees, was known as much as for its neighborhood vibe as it was for the inventive ways folks would jockey for seating, often pulling up gardening stools or hanging out on the front stairs — no matter the weather.
The restaurant, which also sold prepared food and gourmet groceries, was housed in what was Katonah's first library (hence, the Reading Room name), a two-story circa 1850 building with New England-style architecture, including a welcoming porch and a homey interior. A basket of toys and books were always available for those with young children and books from Little Joe's were also sold and available for browsing. Upstairs, the couple also operated a gift shop with everything from mugs to candles, housewares and novelty items.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧The cafe closed March 13 when news of the coronavirus hit and, according to Pete, the couple first thought "this sucks, but we’ll get through it."
"The staff was unfazed," he wrote in a press release. "They made a huge family lunch, and cleaned like crazy."
The couple figured they'd take that time to get to long-dormant projects and made plans to paint and power wash. A local contractor was even scheduled to build new shelves and benches for the dining room.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧They thought they'd be back. In fact, that first week, Pete told everyone to take the weekend off, get drunk, and report on Monday to figure out a plan to move forward.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧Instead, the following week, a few key staffers trickled in. Together, they cleaned more, paid bills, and gave away all of the cafe's perishables.
But as the news grew more ominous, the Menzies had to make some tough decisions. On March 20 the couple laid off all of their 20-plus employees. "We called it a furlough," said Pete. "We cried, we apologized, and we said go on unemployment, and we'll make up whatever you’re going to lose by not working.
"And we did. For six weeks. Don’t ask how."
Trying to adapt
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧But the strain proved too much. The two had "about a zillion" discussions on how much money they were losing, about how weird it was to not know when they could re-open and what the heck (another word may have been used) they were going to do.
"We tried everything," said Gretchen. "We got an EIDL grant. We got a PPP loan. We had a plan to re-staff and re-open. We rehashed every scenario, ran numbers again and again."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧In the end, the two, "beyond heart-broken" over the situation, realized it wouldn't work.
"Here’s the screwed-up thing about the restaurant business," explained Pete. "It barely works when things are good. The margins are tiny, the risk is immense.
"This crisis, being closed for eight weeks so far, with no revenue, has been deadly. Get inventive! Try take out! Sell booze to go! Sell all your toilet paper at a 1000% mark-up! It’s all noise, it won’t work. Not for us. We need 150 transactions a day to kind of break even. That’s not happening with just take out. We figured 50 to 75 at best. Less was more likely. The delivery services take a one-third fee, so there’s no profit there. And then what about the future? Would people want to eat in? Even if we can open, at the rumored mandate of one quarter of your normal seating capacity, that’s four people that can eat in the restaurant at a time.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧"Furthermore, how can we keep our staff safe by distancing? Kitchens are busy and crowded, and in order to safely provide food, we would be expecting our staff to perform like front line-health care workers. But they don’t have that training. Neither do I. Even if we figure that all out, will people spend money on avocado toast and lattes after they’ve lost money in the markets? After they’ve lost jobs? Not like they did before the crisis."
And so, they made the announcement that the Katonah Reading Room is permanently closing. The two hope that with the smaller "more agile" Little Joe's, which requires fewer people to operate, at least one of their businesses will survive. (They've owned Little Joe's since 2013). Still, both point out, there's no guarantee and they still have a lot to figure out.
If there's anything the longtime Katonah residents want the community to know is that they haven't given up. "We're still here," said Pete. "We love Katonah and we’re not going anywhere.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧"We’re just a little smaller, and a little bruised."
The two have hopes of coming back. "We’re going to heal," he said. "Someday, we'll pry the shutters open, and welcome you and the sunshine back inside the Reading Room. "
The Reading Room, a Katonah institution and arguably the heart of the village, is not the only dining establishment to close in the wake of our new normal. O'Donoghue's Tavern in Nyack, in business for more than 50 years and most recently used as a backdrop for Showtime's "Ray Donaovan," as well as Pie Lady & Son, another longtime Rockland County business (and known at many a Westchester farmers market), have also closed.
Jeanne Muchnick covers food and dining. Click here for her most recent articles and follow her latest dining adventures on Instagram . Check out lohud's latest subscription offers .