Jack & Luna’s Café in Stone Ridge is a bright and airy place, contemporary in design, with a staff hired for its friendliness. “It’s a very welcoming place,” says co-owner Julie Bowman. “We have a lot of regular customers that we really enjoy.”
Everything on the menu is made from scratch, she says, except for the bread, delivered daily from Bread Alone. Popular items on the menu include the Luna Tuna and the Roast Beef Panini.
Bowman says that she does a bit of everything at the Café, “like every small business owner,” and she’s proud of having had readers of Hudson Valley Magazine vote her Café’s coffee, sandwiches and soups to be Best in the Hudson Valley. Some of the favorite soups are the butternut squash and curry, cold gazpacho in the summer and corn chowder with crabmeat, served only on the weekends.
One thing is puzzling, though: Given that the owners of Jack & Luna’s Café are husband and wife Chris and Julie Bowman, who are Jack and Luna? “They’re my dogs,” says Julie, “two German shepherds.” There are two sons, too, age 19, but they wouldn’t have liked having the business named after them, she says.
The Bowmans didn’t have a background in restaurants before opening Jack & Luna’s, “but as a Jewish mother,” says Julie, “I was always comfortable around food and making sure everyone is well-fed.”
For 20 years she worked as a designer in New York City for various accessory companies, and Chris is an acoustical contractor – a musician by passion, says Julie, and a builder of recording studios (with an international reputation) by livelihood.
When her sons were younger, and Julie would drive from Kerhonkson to Stone Ridge taking them back and forth to school, she’d find herself wishing that there were a place to stop for lunch along the way. Then, on one of her drives, she noticed a building for sale. “When we finally sold our place in Brooklyn to move up here permanently, we decided to take some of that money and buy this place, with the intention that someday I’d do something with it,” she says.
The something turned out to be Jack & Luna’s Café, celebrating its seventh anniversary this year. They’re busier than ever, according to Julie, and now offer live jazz nights once a month, too.
Her husband built the business for her, Julie says, but it was also his intention all along to have live jazz there. Chris used his acoustical expertise to enhance the sound quality at the Café, and now the breakfast and lunch spot that normally closes at 4 p.m. opens up at night once a month to host live jazz with Chris on drums. “He says it’s the greatest gig he could ever have hoped for,” says Julie, “ten minutes from home, and his drums here so he doesn’t have to schlep things back and forth.” People are very appreciative of the music, she says, and Chris brings in talented musicians from all over the area.
This Saturday, December 8, Hudson Valley-based jazz saxophonist and composer Bob Shaut will play Jack & Luna’s, with Charlie Kniceley on bass and Bowman on drums. Shaut, who recently retired as director of Kingston High School’s band, led a saxophone quartet for more than 15 years – a lineup that included Ed Summerlin, Ed Xiques and the late Ron Finck. Shaut’s jazz ensemble compositions have been performed by numerous bands, and he was selected to appear in Who’s Who among American Teachers.
The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and set times are 7:30 and 9 p.m., with a $10 cover charge per person. “And once you’re in, you’re in,” says Julie; everyone is welcome to stay for both sets. Full-time students with ID may request discount admission, and reservations are accepted for parties of six or more. The Bowmans suggest early arrival on live-music nights, as shows often sell out to capacity.
The regular daytime menu is offered on jazz nights, along with beer, wine, soft drinks and desserts. Jack & Luna’s baker, Culinary Institute grad Lori Traver (“who makes wonderful baked goods and beautiful, amazing cakes,” says Julie), usually creates a special cake or dessert for the live-music nights.
The Café does a good side business in custom-order cakes for special occasions, Julie says, and catering, on-site and off-, is a big part of the business as well. They cater private parties, and even things like feeding a crew doing nearby photo shoots. “We’ve done that for the people from Victoria’s Secret about six times now,” says Julie.
For more information, visit www.jackandlunas.com.
Jack & Luna’s Café, open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., doors open 6:30 p.m. on live music nights, sets at 7:30 and 9 p.m., $10, 3928 Main Street, Stone Ridge; (845) 687-9794, https://jackandlunas.com. Read more about local cuisine and learn about new restaurants on Ulster Publishing’s dinehudsonvalley.com.