Dixon Roadside, the gleaming new restaurant on Tinker Street headed out Bearsville-ways, opens this Friday, December 20. There’ll be an official ribbon-cutting hosted by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce at 4 p.m., with local officials on hand, then doors open to the general public.
Don’t worry about making reservations; Dixon Roadside, like its sister Phoenicia Diner, doesn’t take them. It won’t even have normal table service, but a counter service and staff to run orders to people…sort of like the classic old roadside spots of 50, 60 years back.
Woodstock’s social media has been abuzz ever since Michael Cioffi, whose pre-restaurateur life saw him building sets for Broadway shows, held a private event to show off his new spot last week.
“We wanted to see if the kitchen held it together, if our service staff were working,” he explained this week, as excited and nervous as he used to be before a show opened. “You could call it a ‘kick the tires’ kind of event.”
Cioffi added how the community response has been better than expected. He’s been careful to acknowledge the various institutions that have preceded him, including Gypsy Wolf, the Watering Troff and the earlier combined swimming pool and ice cream destination. That’s always been a draw in a town so conscious of its own changing recent history. Then there are those who have come to love Phoenicia Diner and its refined take on comfort food classics.
“Roadside is designed to be extremely casual, with a menu that’s our latest take on new American comfort food,” Cioffi added. “We’ll have a daily special, a fixed plate with a main dish, two sides and dessert, that will come served on what looks like a TV dinner tray, with one for each day.”
There will be a full bar featuring an array of locally-made beers and ciders, and cocktails that utilize local shrub-derived mixers. Menu sides will be large enough to share amongst diners at a table. The place will be open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily, except for Wednesdays…at least until summer hits, at which point Cioffi said that everything will be re-examined to make sure the place is running at top quality.
“Seating inside the new take on a classic service station look will accommodate up to 65; when the weather warms up, garage doors will open to a large patio-like space, covered, that will “make the inside and outside one and the same.” A globe light over the bar plays with the history of the site, via symbols…a glyph history, one could say.
Cioffi explained how the new Dixon Roadside started off as “an idea based around the shape of the building,” a restoration of the beloved Gypsy Wolf. But then the revamping stripped elements back to a level where “we had to rethink…we decided it wouldn’t be a wise investment, financially or emotionally, to do what we’d originally wanted.”
That original plan was similar to Cioffi’s introduction into the restaurant world seven years ago, when he lovingly restored the 1960’s-era Phoenicia Diner then updated its menu offering and sense of style to reflect the sort of contemporary hipster aesthetic that’s become a key to the recent regional turnaround. Instead, Dixon Roadside’s now aimed at being a new low-key center for the town, a place to meet up with friends, to take the family, to head out for drinks on a sultry Woodstock evening.
In other words, a new Deanies, Duey’s, or Watering Troff. With a soft-serve ice cream machine serving Ronnybrook specialties and house-made toppings.
“Pricing will be fixed, targeted at ‘reasonable’ while using locally-sourced products that do tend to push up prices,” Cioffi added. “Our hope is that with the counter service, we can keep costs lowered.”
There are elements from the old Gypsy Wolf that will eventually get worked into the new space. Everyone’s ready to keep a close eye on what’s been planned, and how things are rolling out, so things’ll be able to be fine-tuned by the summer.
Cioffi added how he’d gotten a bit “concerned” when the Bearsville complex just down the road closed. But he’s thrilled at new renovations there, and feels that the entire western end of Tinker Street is about to get a blast of new life.
How “Woodstock” will Dixon Roadside feel for the locals who will be its primary clientele these opening months of winter?
“People will know Brendan, in the kitchen, from the Diner and other places around town. Our new wait staff are all familiar faces from here,” Mike Cioffi answered. “The music will be similar to what we have at Phoenicia Diner; we’re in the framework of the 60s and 70s, that era of road travel. Call it a nod to roadside eateries, which many of us remember as being a little magical.”
Dixon Roadside’s owner/visionary added that he and his general manager, Courtney, will be moving between the new Woodstock restaurant and Phoenicia Diner. In addition, each place will have its own on-site manager.
Is everyone excited?
“It’s a little crazy but not as crazy as I was expecting,” Cioffi replied.
Finally, we asked about the parking out front, which he said would be more on its Tinker Street side now than up against the gleaming new building.
We refined our ask: what about the lot itself?
“Ah!,” he answered, getting our drift into Woodstock nostalgia.
“We’ll be keeping a few of the potholes, at least for the first months,” Mike Cioffi said. “We’ll fill them slowly.”