I got the last Pecan Ring that Peter Grandia baked.
Well, maybe not. I got the last one on Saturday, October 5, and was told that it was the last day of operation for the Pineview Bakery. But a little later when I speak to Peter Grandia, owner and baker for nearly two decades at the beloved eatery on Route 28 in Shokan, he says they’ll stay open for one more day, for that Sunday.
That meant one more day for him of being in the kitchen at 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. preparing for the next morning until, maybe 9 at night. “Then I come in at 2:30 a.m. or 3 o’clock start the ovens and make whatever I didn’t make,” says Grandia, through a groan. “The last vacation I had in the last 18 years is when the power went out. Eighteen years straight, 364 days a year.”
“I got to make it for the next day…that’s what I mean, people don’t realize. After 18 years, it got me.”
Couldn’t you hire someone to spell you, even for a few days here and there?
“I’ve had several people who have wanted to work, they came in for a week or so, then decided that they didn’t like getting up that early, and they’d either be a no show or they’d call in sick.”
And so, the Pineview Bakery has been sold. And maybe I got the last Pecan Ring. I choose to believe so, anyway.
There are many fine restaurants in the area, some serving elegant cuisine, or more affordable everyday fare. But there is something about the early morning, those breakfast and lunch places that provide an indefinable springboard into the day, where the basic fare — eggs, any which way, pancakes, bacon, BLTs — mixes with greeting the regulars, comrades in arms who have survived another night, and the coffee is strong and the cups have no bottom. The really memorable ones often have a special dish that you might keep coming back for…like the Vealette sandwich at Duey’s in Woodstock, or the amazing Matzoh Brei you could get every Passover season in the decidedly non-Jewish atmosphere of Paul and Doris’s on Broadway in Kingston.
Pineview served up all of the staples, but has always had its baked goods. And, like all the finest establishments, it offered more.
“It’s very sad. We have our friends and we’ll wish them well…” says Paulette, who is at a table with Delores and Joe, and her small dog, Baby.
I ask her, what’s your favorite order? She doesn’t hesitate. “Friendship…”
Joe, middle aged, used to come to Pineview with his father. His favorite thing to eat? “Everything…” Delores says she comes to see the people.
Baby’s favorite thing? “She likes the turkey…”
The short order cook is Leny Burns. She’s been working at Pineview for almost six years. “Peter is a great guy, so when he calls me early in the morning, I come. I never got sick…” Eslia Keary is waiting tables. “There’s a warm nostalgic familiar feeling here. Guess I’ll just put in more hours at my other job…” Nicola Daley is filling in.
Dan Marlott, an older gent, has already eaten, but is hanging around soaking up the atmosphere. “My Dad used to come here, it’s been 50 years, at least. When I left the area in ‘62, it was open…” He asks Grandia if he’ll teach the new owners how to bake.
Pete says, I haven’t gotten that far yet…
There will be new owners, but the deal hadn’t closed yet, and thus they shall not be named. But there likely will be life yet in the old red building with the stone patio facade.
“I hope they’re going to keep it somewhat the same. I’m not sure about the bakery aspect of it, but the grill and all that stuff,” says Grandia. “They’ll probably have some pastries but I don’t know if they’re going to do it in-house. They bought the ovens, so that might be a sign that there will be something.”
He muses on the history of it all.
“We’re the third owners from 1947. My family had it for 39 years.”
Neil was the father. “He was an old school baker. There’s not a lot of them around anymore. Everything is made from scratch, even the sales help.” he jokes. “My father taught me all that stuff. He grew up during the war, so whatever you got, that’s what you use. If I wasn’t brought up the way I was, I’d have been out of here a long time ago. There’s nothing easy about it.”
He’s up in the air about his future. “I don’t know. I’ll figure that out as it comes.” He’ll surely spend more time with his three children, an older daughter Sarah, whom we meet at the Bakery, an 18 year old son and a six year old daughter.
What are you going to do if you feel like baking?
“I don’t know. I found a house that has a four car garage that I may convert into something, if I want to do that,” he says. “It’s rough. People don’t realize or appreciate what exactly is involved in all that. They’re used to going to Walmart or Hannaford, picking something up that’s frozen and just throwing it in the oven.”
You get appreciated, though?
“It’s nice to hear it, but you don’t hear it enough. So when you do hear it, it’s appreciated.
So yeah, it’s going to be a bittersweet ending.”
You deserve a vacation…
“I’m going to Disneyland. I think so…”
The Pecan Ring was delicious.