The hot and cold sandwiches at the Bistro Mountain Store, a one-of-a-kind deli tucked under the breast of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, are not only as good as their names — they’re better.
“Everyone wants to get their name on the board,” said owner Joan Fall, a New Paltz native who has owned the Bistro Mountain Store for almost six years. “I want to get on there!” exclaimed one of her employees, Brianna Stachowski.
“I’m already up there: the ‘Luke ‘n’ Duke.’ That’s named after me and my dog,” said another employee, Luke Roberti, another one of Fall’s charismatic chefs. Roberti explained that the hot sandwich — with bacon, turkey, Gouda cheese, provolone, avocado, roasted red peppers, hot sauce and more — was named in honor of himself and his departed black Lab, Duke. “I have him right here with me,” said Roberti, who rolled up his sleeve to reveal a pawprint tattoo, noting that the “black spots are his ashes, embedded into me.”
“Each sandwich has a story, and people are curious to learn about it,” said Fall, who was replenishing coffee, cleaning, cooking, chopping onions, talking to customers, calling out, “Have a Hot Howie B ready,” referring to the salad named after Gardiner resident Howie Buck, which includes Buffalo chicken, onions, tomatoes, bacon and fresh mozzarella on a bed of romaine lettuce with ranch dressing and salsa.
Fall, who managed the Main Street Bistro for 18 years and then moved out to the Southwest, where she ran and operated two more restaurants, is no stranger to the food service industry. “I’ve always loved to cook and worked in the restaurant business most of my life, so when Doug Thompson said he was thinking of selling the Bistro Mountain business [located at the corner of Route 44/55 and Route 299 across from the Mountain Brauhaus], I decided to go for it, and it’s been great.”
Her customers are as eclectic as the sandwiches on the board. They include locals, climbers, hikers, bikers and outdoor enthusiasts as well as tourists. “I wouldn’t even call many of the climbers ‘tourists,’ because they’re here so much,” said Fall. “But we also have a lot of locals that come in, as well as your athletic types that are running or cycling through the Ridge.”
While the deli has all of the basic provisions like candy, coffee, sodas, chips, BLTs, hot dogs, egg-and-cheese-on-a-hard-roll, newspapers…there is another tier of offerings that sets it apart. “I would say that the most popular sandwiches, cold sandwiches, are the #6, Axel Rose [named after her niece and nephew]; the #13, T-Fall [named after her sister Theresa].” Each sandwich, hot or cold, is a unique blend of her family and friends, employees, regular customers’ favorite cheese, meats, sauces, veggies, toppings and bread. “Some are just crazy, like the Panamaniac and the Juanita [Fall’s Spanish name whenever she spends time in Panama, as they can’t pronounce ‘Joan’].”
Then there are those that are in memoriam, like the Kirby Brown: a hot sandwich with chicken, bacon, avocado, bleu cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and banana pepper with chipotle mayonnaise in a wrap. “That’s named after my friend who died in Sedona during that sweatlodge tragedy,” said Fall, glancing up at the board. “Today’s the anniversary of her death,” she said, tearing up; and just at that moment, Kirby’s mother and sister walked in to order two Kirby Browns on their way to hike in the mountains and honor their beloved daughter/sister.
While the store, with outside seating and views of the Ridge to die for, was rockin’ and rollin’ over the holiday weekend, Fall noted that like many businesses, hers had been drastically affected by Irene and the previous and subsequent rain events. “Whenever they close the Flats down, we get hit hard, because no one is driving up here,” she said. “It’s been a really hard summer and fall for business. Thankfully, the local people are loyal; but the rain and the road closures and the storms have taken a toll this year. This is the first beautiful, dry holiday weekend we’ve had, so I’m happy, even though we’re working like crazy!”
Asked what she enjoys most about running the Bistro Mountain Store, Fall thought for a moment, and before she could respond, both Brianna and Luke screamed out, “Her employees! She loves us!” Fall smiled. “Yes, I have great employees. And I think it’s the customers — or at least the nice ones, which 99 percent of them are,” she said. “And just being in this beautiful location. We’re so fortunate to live here, and it’s nice to work and step outside and see the Ridge, and have your friends and family come by. It’s New Paltz! We have a real sense of community here.” ++