A good crepe was a little hard to come by in Saugerties until this month, let alone Hawaii-inspired crepes, fluffy pancakes and other favorites from the 50th state’s rich cuisine.
After a decade-long stint living in Maui, owner Aimee Marone of the new Ohana Café at 117 Partition St. sought to embody the Hawaiian concept of “Ohana” in her birth state of New York. She said that this intangible cornerstone of Hawaiian culture, a sense of family and acceptance that bypasses familial ties to include neighbors, friends and countrymen, is well-suited for the close-knit community of the village.
“[Hawaii] is a completely different place: everybody is community-oriented,” said Marone. “You can come home from work and your auntie next door with all the mango trees could have extra fruit and leave a basketful of them on your front doorstep or something that she had made with them. Kind of like when I was growing up as a kid and someone new moved into the area and you brought them a pie, [Hawaiians] practice that every day.”
She described a slow-paced, honeyed lifestyle of misfit Christmases and easily-made friends that turned her initial vacation spot into a home. The inception of the café concept was born when she lived on the west side of Hawaii between a beloved surfing spot and an under-construction café. Considering herself to be an artist and counting many craftspeople among her friends, she envisioned a setting that combined the artistic side of her food with a visual flare.
“I wanted it to be an art-based café so that other starving artist types like myself could get by,” Marone said. Walking into the newly-renovated space, her dedication to this ideal is apparent through the art and crafty touches that decorate the walls, from various works by local artists to the hand-arranged bowls of island lilies that dot each table.
At Ohana, brought to fruition by Marone and her mother Rita, the crepe selection is split evenly between sweet and savory fare. Options range from the island-inspired “Huli Huli,” with slow-cooked Hawaiian pork and pineapple, all the way to classic French-style dishes, like the “How Do You Like Them Apples?” containing cinnamon, brie and its caramelized namesake fruit. In addition to crepes, the cafe also offers a wide selection of salads, soups, sandwiches and wraps. There’s a variety of hot and cold drinks too — coffee, tea, espresso and seasonal smoothies.
An attention to seasonality, fresh ingredients, and above all, flavor, run throughout the cafe’s menu. Quinoa, tofu, and acai berries make a favorable showing, providing healthy alternatives for those who might not be quite ready or willing to devour a stack of decadent red velvet chocolate crepes to start their morning. The staples are readily available as well, from egg-and-meat breakfast platters to French toast and customizable oatmeal bowls.
The menu’s breadth is matched up in no small part with Marone’s own lofty goals. “I’m big on trying to give back,” she said. “I’m going to open up and service a Thanksgiving for families in need.” Her gregariousness has made an impact, as evident by the ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on August 11. There, flip-flop-shaped lollipops and leis were distributed to curious passers-by in celebration of the new addition.
She detailed plans to nestle into the community: hosting open mic sessions and cooking classes, showcasing various forms of local artwork and bringing another cooperative presence to the already-neighborly village.
“I was trying to bring Ohana here and Saugerties already had it,” said Marone.
Intrigued eaters can peruse a full menu available at ohanacafeny.com. Hours are subject to change, but are currently between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.