New Paltz’s Main Street Bistro celebrates its 25th anniversary this month

Pictured is owner Doug Thompson (on far left) with staff members Justin Barbagallo, Russell Bell, Brian Boshko, Sarah Cutler, Tim Ganio, Liz Gurdin, Kenny Halcott, Jay Miles, Almira Mironchik, Lauren Thompson and Nick Thompson. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Main Street Bistro at 59 Main Street in New Paltz is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. And in the restaurant world, where new places can be notoriously short-lived, that’s no small achievement. Its loyal regulars do rave about the food — just check out the Bistro’s reviews online — but it takes more than that to keep a restaurant afloat for 25 years.

“Without my employees, this place wouldn’t be successful,” says co-owner Doug Thompson. “Many of them have been here more than 15 years; my manager, my head chef, bookkeeper, a couple of the servers… and most have been here for at least ten years. We’re all in it together. I’m really lucky, really blessed and lucky to have these people forge ahead with me and go to battle every day.”

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Two of those staff members are his children, with wife Teresa Thompson. Daughter, Lauren, 16, is a host. “She kicks butt here!” Doug says. “She’s got that restaurant thing in her and she likes to be in the thick of it. My son (Nicholas, 19) would rather be in the back of the house; do dishes and listen to the radio and hang out with all the dish people.”

Doug started out working at the Bistro himself in 1987, as a prep cook for the prior owner. A musician at the time, he would go out on tour as drummer for the punk rock band ‘Murphy’s Law’ and periodically come back to work at the Bistro in between tour dates. But by 1993, when he’d grown tired of the music scene and the prior owner of the Bistro wanted to sell, Doug and Teresa Thompson decided to buy the place.

“We also decided then that New Paltz was going to be our home, and our community,” says Teresa. “We wanted to raise our family here and be involved with how New Paltz was going to grow, develop and distinguish itself.”

There were only a handful of places to eat and a few bars on Main Street back then, but the competition these days doesn’t worry the couple. “A thriving downtown, lots of businesses, eateries and unique shops… I was so glad to see this happen,” says Teresa. “It’s great for everyone!” 

Doug agrees. “We’ve seen the growth of New Paltz over the years, and as a whole, business is thriving. I really don’t think there’s any animosity between any of the businesses, and I think that’s why we’ve all survived; we’re all on the same mission. People ask me if I’m worried about the guy across the street, but I’m just worried about us. Competition only makes us work harder. We’ve gotten a lot of awards over the years, and even when that happens, I just look at it as, okay, now how do we top it? How do we stay on track?”

Main Street Bistro did stop doing dinner service a few years ago in response to a big influx at the time of new places to eat in downtown New Paltz, but as it turned out, becoming exclusively a breakfast-and-lunch spot had basically no impact on the bottom line, as the Bistro’s busy catering business makes up for eliminating dinners, says Doug.

The clientele at the restaurant is usually a blend of locals, tourists and college students. The Bistro is renowned with the SUNY students for its $1.95 breakfast, but their best-selling item, Doug says, is the Salmon Hash, served with poached eggs and home fries topped with asiago cheese and hollandaise ($9.95). The recipe for it was even featured a few years back by Triathlete magazine along with a profile of Thompson; he’s been racing in triathlon events for years.

“Doug and I feel so much a part of all that surrounds us in New Paltz,” says Teresa. “And we made that commitment to community come to fruition: we are very involved with community organizations, the school district, the college (we are both alumni), coaching youth sports, etc. I think if people see that you are involved in the local culture, they will support you, and in turn, they know we will support them! We love living in New Paltz, and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for the people here.”

Main Street Bistro is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (845) 255-7766 or visit http://mainstreetbistro.com.

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