By Heather Skolnick • Photo by Carolyn Simpson/Doublevision Photographers
All Aboard! Next Stop: Chappaqua Station Farm to Town! After a prolonged and dramatic bidding process, the Chase family won their proposal to open the first eatery located in the Chappaqua Train Station. They began this process many months ago by drawing up a business plan and presenting it to the board. They met all the requirements, including maintaining access to restroom facilities. They also will be preserving the historic structure of the ticket station. More importantly, they will be bringing an exciting new culinary option to the community! Not a formal, traditional restaurant in feeling, this will be a place to meet up and connect with friends, to share a bite and let the drinks and conversation flow.
Both graduates of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Peter and Erin Chase have the educational background for the restaurant business. Indeed their resumes show they put their education to work, as past endeavors include a litany of well-known and successful international hotel bars and restaurants. Erin describes Peter as the “vision,” Peter describes Erin as the “grounded, detail-oriented one,” and accordingly, they perfectly complement one another.
With all those big-name restaurants and bars around the world, as well as over half a dozen other exciting projects currently in the works, why did the Chases pick Chappaqua for their next project? Their decision was a highly personal one, and it started with their decision to move to the suburbs from the city.
After having their second child, Peter and Erin came to the conclusion that they wanted to raise their children in the suburbs. And in conjunction with raising their children outside the city, they also wanted to integrate their professional life with their personal life. They knew that wherever they chose to make a home, they would also develop a project.
As Chappaqua residents now for two and a half years, the two have begun to realize their vision. The café will be named Chappaqua Station Farm to Town and is slated to open in July. Each day will start at the café with morning service catering to commuters. They will offer basics like coffee and tea, as well as fresh squeezed juices and pastry items served from the ticket booth. Peter and Erin’s vision for lunch is friends meeting for fabulous salads or fresh sandwiches, perhaps paired with a hand selected variety of wines.
At dinner time, the ticket booth will transform into a cozy bar area with about a dozen bar stools surrounding it. They have partnered with Eben Klemm, a well- known mixologist, who will create a half dozen or so specialty cocktails using locally distilled spirits and ingredients. They will offer not just beer on tap, but also local wines on tap. The unique, environmentally friendly approach to wine ensures each wine will always be fresh and at the perfect temperature. Apart from the bar, approximately 15 tables will fill the remaining space with warmth and community as well as wonderful food with local ingredients prepared by a renowned chef.
With food sourced locally wherever possible, resulting in a supremely fresh and always evolving menu, customers can rest assured the delicious menu will feed one kind of hunger. However, what makes this café truly special is the soul behind it and the community needs it also feeds. The Chases will work with farmers, artisans, artists, schools and charities from the region from beginning to end.
Inside, the wall décor, curated by the Northern Westchester Artists Guild, will feature rotating local artists and photographers. Moving beyond the art, the Chases will be working with a charity to support local community gardens. At these gardens, plots can be leased out or farmed communally and the food grown is donated to schools or food pantries where fresh fruits and vegetables are not readily available. Lastly, the Chases will work directly with children through the Chappaqua schools. Their goal is to teach and demonstrate the end-to-end process beginning with growing food and resulting in a healthful, delicious meal.
Although there are over 6,000 commuters travelling through Chappaqua each morning, Peter Chase says that the café and bar is “not going to be a tremendous money maker for us.” So why are they opening it? Peter answers: “Because we feel our downtown needs a catalyst to revitalize the energy at nighttime.” He continues by explaining the ancient Greek term “agora.” The literal meaning is “gathering place”; Peter’s explanation is that it represents the idea of a business within a village that brings people together to interact. This was the fundamental idea on which the vision for the café was built. Continues Peter, “Through this warm little small space, we can create a social hub…a center that’s soulful and dynamic.” Erin echoes this statement, saying the café will be “all about the atmosphere and conversation.”
With only a short time until the café opens, excitement is rapidly building within the New Castle community for a place that fits this very bill. Chappaqua Station Farm to Town promises to be it!
Heather Skolnick and her husband Neal have been New Castle residents for eight years. They, along with their three children, are anxiously awaiting the opening of the new cafe!