In 2018 Catskill has really coming into it’s own. No longer, just a side note to Hudson, Catskill has become its own destination. Recently, the Lumberyard, a nonprofit center for film & contemporary performing arts, opened in the Village of Catskill. Popular bars & restaurants like HiLo & New York Restaurant continue to bring visitors. Quirky shops like Spike’s Record Rack, Magpie Bookshop, Sister Salvage, A Tangled Thread, The Rodney Shop and clothing boutique iivi reflect the creative & eclectic vibe of Catskill.
Just 7 minutes from the Village of Catskill is Leeds, a hamlet known for its swimming holes on the Catskill Creek & the popular restaurant Gracie’s Luncheonette.
I talked to Ally Merritt one of the owners of Gracie’s Luncheonette about living & working in Catskill and her love of the area.
Me: Are you from the Hudson Valley? If not, why did you choose to make this area your home?
Ally: I was born & raised in the lower Hudson Valley. I have always loved the area and don't think I could ever leave!!
Me: What are some of your favorite things about Catskill that only a local would know?
Ally: One of the best things about summer in Catskill is the local swimming holes in the Catskill Creek! You've got to know someone in order to find your way, but it's such a wonderful natural resource! Unfortunately Gracie’s cannot allow our customers to access to the creek, but we do have a beautiful view through the picture windows in our dining room!
Me: What is special about the hamlet of Leeds where you are located?
Ally: "Lovely Leeds" has a very special feeling about it. Leeds has so much history that still exists within and it just feels authentic. Our location at Gracie’s used to be Koch's restaurant for many years, and so many folks have fond memories of Koch's, so we purposely kept as much intact as we could.
Me: Tell me about your background. How and when did you start your business?
Ally: My partner Andrew and I started Gracie’s food truck in Catskill in 2014. For a couple of years we traveled around the Hudson valley with our food truck, attending events and also parking in the food truck court on Warren street in Hudson (although the food truck court has since shut down). In 2016 we opened our brick & mortar in Leeds, but the truck is still out & about! Currently you can find our food truck at Sloop Brewery in Elizaville, open during their tasting room hours, Thursday-Sunday 12-8!
Me: What are the benefits of being in business here?
Ally: We love the community here in the Catskill/Hudson area. The Hudson Valley is home to such an abundance of farmers, artisans and craftspeople, and we truly enjoy being able to work so closely with our neighbors. Most of the food that we serve is grown and raised locally, the art on our walls is all done by local artists, and some of our furniture was even built locally! Thomas Alfeld, who is a local resident, custom built our bar as well as a beautiful wood dining table! He's also done work just down the street at Hartland on Hudson!
Me: What would you like others who are considering moving to Catskill/ the Hudson Valley to know?
Ally:Do it!! It's such a beautiful place and it's fantastic feeling to live in such a friendly and supportive community.
(all photos via Gracie's instagram page)