After years of being portrayed as Woodstock’s quaint and charming country cousin, the village of Saugerties has a new identity: vivacious. Though there’s still plenty of country charm, the village has attracted a score of new and varying businesses through recent years, including designer boutiques for men, women, and pets; eco-conscious shops; and eateries of all stripes. ’Cue
, for instance, is a seasonal barbecue joint known just as much for its live music performances as it is for its fall-off-the-bone ribs. Find it on Partition Street during the warmer months—you can’t miss those fiery red umbrellas. And Dig Boutique
, a popular women’s fashion retailer, has recently expanded to offer men’s apparel and a small but fabulous selection of brightly colored, high-end home goods.
But what is drawing all this sudden attention? A big factor in Saugerties’ appeal is its community of residents and shop owners who love to have fun, finding almost any reason to have a street fair or festival. Some, like the Saugerties Bed Races, can get pretty weird (basically local businesses decorate hospital beds and race them), but others benefit historic buildings—such as the Saugerties Lighthouse
’s Between the Tides Music Festival, and several just provide a safe place for the community to take in some gorgeous art work or hear some great music. Café Mezzaluna
, a Latin-themed bistro on the outskirts of town, is well known for its involvement with the local art and music scene (although best known for its creative take on the traditional Cubano sandwich and always-hearty breakfasts—try the chili relleno omelet). Local artists display their works on the walls and live musicians—but not just Latin performers—take the stage Friday and Saturday nights. Owner Mery Rosado and her manager, Cherie, have also teamed up with local arts enthusiast Steve Massardo to create the Saugerties Sunset Series, which features performances by local musicians, overlooking the waterfront of either Glasco Mini Park or Tina Chorvas Park. “The series was developed when Cherie wanted to bring more attention to Saugerties’ park areas about five years ago,” Rosado says. “So we’ve collaborated with Steve and other musicians to set up shows every first Friday during the summers. We keep it very local, but occasionally we’ll invite people traveling through the area to stop by and play. And it’s at a beautiful location—some people kayak in for music when we do shows at Tina, while Glasco looks over at Dutchess County where you’ll see hot air balloons, eagles flying over the Hudson, and other incredible backgrounds.” The last show of the season is this month, Friday, September 7, featuring the Broad Band and B. Stern & Pop Nuve. Massardo, who does sound for the shows, also runs the John Street Jam
with his wife, Terry. The Jam, which takes place in the Dutch Arms Chapel, is an informal concert during which local musicians play songs and explain their stories in an intimate setting (VH1 “Storytellers” style). In true Catskills-region form, there’s usually a potluck involved and in addition to a small cover fee, attendees will bring a batch of cupcakes, a casserole, or coffee to share with other guests.
With this sort of small-town vibe, it’s hard to believe that one of the area’s most luxurious hotels recently opened just minutes away, but Diamond Mills Hotel
now sits at the top of the Esopus Falls (a waterfall in the center of the village—who knew?), and, without a doubt, has made a considerable impact on the village. “Not only has Diamond Mills brought nearly 100 jobs to Saugerties, but it also contributes to putting Saugerties on the map as a destination,” says spokesperson Emily Glass. “The hotel offers travelers luxury accommodations in the heart of the sleepy chic village, in addition to it being a dining destination.” The hotel, which offers 28 rooms and two deluxe suites—each of which overlooks the waterfall, sees a range of guests from couples on a romantic getaway, to exhibitors from the renowned HITS
on the Hudson horse shows. The Tavern, a restaurant and pub located at the hotel, brings a blend of tourists and locals. “The Tavern attracts foodies looking for a true culinary experience, in addition to our local patrons who are looking for a neighborhood gathering place to relax with friends,” Glass explains.
For a more casual approach to tavern digs, the Dutch Ale House
on Main Street is a fine place to swig a pint or sip a microbrew with your buddies. This gastropub offers a full lunch and dinner menu daily with dishes that are both affordable and locally sourced whenever possible. Best known as a beer-lover’s bar, the Dutch features an evolving lineup of 15 craft brews on tap, ranging from famous brands—Guinness, Blue Moon, and others—to smaller New York-based breweries such as Ommegang or Saranac, plus ciders, barley wines, and other unique blends.
But for true decadence, one just needs to step inside Lucky Chocolates
on Partition Street—which isn’t your average chocolatier. Yes, their mouth-watering truffles are always fresh, often elegantly designed, and come in various unique flavors—try the slightly sweetened Paris Tea Truffle, the fruity blueberry parfait, or the smiling Buddha truffle with a gooey filling. But unlike others, the shop itself has a bright and festive interior; as if to say the art of chocolate doesn’t have to be so dramatic all the time. For further contrast, while the shop keeps up on the latest trends more typical of cafés—T-shirts for sale, free WiFi, and the like—there is also a wall of nostalgic toys for sale, featuring brands and styles from the era before anything was high-tech or began with a lower-case “i.” Find model racecars, tin pull-along toys, and more.
Lucky presents a great metaphor for how the village as a whole has evolved—modern, hip, and updated, but with a humble appreciation for the past. Antiques shops still pop up every few doors down, offering dated furniture, art, and tchotchkes. Open since 1906, Montano’s Shoes
is one of the country’s oldest family-owned shoe stores, providing multiple generations with the most comfortable shoes for the whole family. And while many people are aware of the Inquiring Minds bookstore
—a great independently owned shop with its own café and occasional nighttime events—Our Bookshop
is a lesser-known but very impressive bookseller offering old, used, and rare books just down the street. From the outside, Our Bookshop looks small and unassuming, but inside it’s like Narnia for book lovers. Upon opening the door, you’re hit with that old-book smell—weathered paper, crumbling glue, whatever that is—and shelves are lined top to bottom with more than 25,000 titles, snaking through the bottom floor, along the wall that leads to the second floor, and into a couple of categorized rooms upstairs.
And when older establishments begin to fall into disrepair, there is usually someone there to help pick up the pieces. Gerard and Erica Price did this for a warehouse—technically, a former production facility for composition books (you know, those black-and-white bound notebooks)—built in the early 1900s. Its spacious interior spoke to them as a great performance and visual art space, and the building has become the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory
(SPAF), an indoor and outdoor arts complex that provides a space for music, graphic arts, stage, film, and video productions. On September 15, SPAF’s latest group show, “Blue,” opens with a reception from 5 to 8pm.
Art and music seem to be ever-present themes throughout the village, and one of the newer additions to the scene is the community’s First Friday event. What started out as an idea for the Partition Street Wine Shop
and Imogen Holloway Gallery
to offer a night of wine and art quickly became another excuse for a village-wide party. Since the kickoff event July 6, shops and eateries have offered to stay open late, Dig Boutique held a fashion show, Lucky Chocolates brought out the chocolate fountain, and the Imogen Holloway has held opening receptions—gallery owner Diane Dwyer says she’s even heard word of “an impromptu fire juggler entertaining people in the streets.”
It’s hard to believe that, at one point, the biggest thing going for Saugerties was that it’s comedian Jimmy Fallon’s hometown (okay, maybe it’s still kind of a big deal). But now, this mountain-bordered town is a cultural hot spot, where everything old is new again and everything new just keeps getting better. Resources Barn on the Pond Brine Barrel Catskill Animal Sanctuary Diamond Mills Dig Dr. Rhoney Stanley, DDS, MPH, RD, CertAcup Esotec Ingrained Woodworking
J. Desmond Dutcher, ESQ (845) 247-0220
Joseph’s Hairstylists (845) 246-5588 Light House
Lisa’s Skin Care (845) 532-0233 Montano’s Shoes Quantum Herbal Products Sanitall Saugerties Performing Arts Factory Sawyer Savings Smith Hardware Town and Country Liquors W Couture Boutique