One of the oldest established restaurants in Ulster County has reopened, to much fanfare. Frank’s Steak House, incorporated in 1910, was known then as “Ben’s on the Bends” because of the sharp turn near the restaurant on Route 9W that was then a dirt road.
In 1998, Frank Rinaudo, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, purchased the restaurant and ran it with great love until 2010, when, he said, he needed a short hiatus. After reopening in July of 2013, the restaurant has once again become a stable meeting ground for locals in Esopus, as well as a destination spot for steak- and burger-lovers who enjoy a large plate of high-quality meat at a reasonable price.
The reception to Rinaudo’s reopening of the oldest restaurant in Ulster County has been nothing short of moving. “It’s been incredible,” he said. “There have been so many people, thanking me for reopening, hugging me — the shock of it all has been overwhelming and beautiful. I feel so blessed to be a part of this community.”
Asked what separates Frank’s Steak House from the rest of the crowd, he said definitively, “We serve a really big piece of steak, certified Black Angus, for half of the price you’d find anywhere else.” Besides the establishment’s Porterhouse steak, its hallmark is its hamburgers, which consist of ten 10 ounces of pure Black Angus beef per burger. “If you can finish one of those burgers, then you’re quite the eater!” said Rinaudo with a laugh. “Those are some serious burgers!”
His entire mission with reopening the steak house is to “give back to this amazing community,” referring to Esopus. “They helped support me and now it’s my turn to give back to them and provide quality steaks and burgers, food and beer for a workingman’s price. I don’t care about making money. I care about these people!”
Frank Rinaudo is the subject of this week’s New Paltz Times Meet & Greet column.
Where are you from originally?
What makes this area unique?
It’s like the best of the 1950s. Everyone is polite, says hello to you on the street and inquires how you are doing. People are just friendly to one another, and that’s a unique thing in this day and age.
What do you like about this community, and why?
What I like is that everybody knows each other but one doesn’t make somebody’s business their own. Yet, if someone needs help, the entire community rallies to help them. My restaurant is a testimony to the small-town feeling, where all the workers come in and congregate after work before going home. It’s a meeting place, a safe place where everyone is welcomed and feels comfortable.
What is your favorite hangout and why?
Besides my restaurant, I would have to say Nathan’s in Brooklyn. I love it there. When I go, I order five hot dogs at a time and then go back for more. They’re that good!
Tell us something we never would have guessed about you.
I love to garden. My garden is my sanctuary; I could spend all my time there. All of the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant we use in the restaurant comes from my garden.