It’s as if someone hit the “reset” button along a stretch of the north side of Main Street in the village: three new eateries will have their doors opened by early June, if all goes according to plan. The entrepreneurs involved share an interest in ensuring that their businesses are environmentally sustainable, as well as a deep desire to see their businesses enmeshed in the community. Just a few steps up the street from the library can be found Green Bar, Apizza! and Burger Box, all sandwiched between La Charla to the east and the upcoming Lemon Squeeze (formerly Murphy’s) which is still being considered before the village’s planning board — to the west. Each of these business owners were kind enough to take time from their last-minute tasks to share a bit about what they hope to bring to New Paltz.
Located at 117 Main Street, Green Bar will be a place to find wide variety of juices, smoothies and plant-based foods. Lifelong resident Danielle Wilson brings a passion for health and fitness that was honed as a personal trainer, while professional cook Harrison Rhee knows the ins and outs of managing a juice bar. They have put together a business that takes the “green” in the name quite seriously: it’s not just that the menu is free of meat; the atmosphere inside is enlivened by a number of plants, up to and including the hedge grass thriving on the “selfie wall” that sports the logo.
An easy place to take a selfie with friends is part of an effort to make Green Bar a welcoming hangout spot. Wilson imagines that this will be an appealing place to meet friends, or to work on a laptop while enjoying something from the satisfying menu.
According to Wilson, the offerings will range from “super healthy” smoothies that might be an acquired taste, to “fake healthy” shakes with ingredients like nutella — probably better for the body than a lot of what’s out there, in any case. For those who prefer food that can be chewed, there will be salads, oatmeal and acai bowls, avocado and breakfast toast, too. The aim is to provide plenty of tasty options that are also suitable for vegans, vegetarians and those avoiding gluten.
This is a business born of the pandemic. Wilson and Rhee both found themselves out of work as a result of the early shutdowns, and first considered starting up a food truck with similar fare to what’s being offered here. As the pandemic dragged on, though, storefronts started to become vacant in Wilson’s native New Paltz and the pair agreed that this would be a good town in which to set up shop.
Green Bar is expected to have its doors open for customers on June 2.
Serving pizza at 119 Main Street is something of a homecoming from Adam Monteverde. Before launching the popular Mexican Kitchen on North Front Street, Monteverde was recruited to prepare pizza pies at the short-lived Grimaldi’s at this very location. “I sat at this counter and cried when I got the news” that the store was to be closed, Monteverde recalls.
Some years later, the Mexican restaurant has been sold, the building where Grimaldi’s was located has changed hands and coal-fired pizza oven will again be put to use by the same person who prepared every pie for that business. Monteverde will be crafting pies in the New Haven tradition, a Neapolitan style with a thin crust that’s only cooked over coal (specifically anthracite, “hard coal,” which burns cleaner and without all the soot) that was pioneered in New Haven, Connecticut. There, it’s called “apizza” (a-BEES’), and Monteverde chose that as the name to make this pizza’s provenance clear.
Monteverde has made considerable changes inside, including a state-of-the-art air filtration system to guard against current and future airborne viruses. The bathrooms are a particular source of pride, and including stunning murals depicting New Paltz of the past and present. The pizza oven that Monteverde knows quite well remains, along with the building’s original wall-mounted gas lamps that have been converted to use electricity. Ceiling fixtures were selected to match the 1930s-era ones in the nearby Elting Memorial Library.
Options for the pies will include fully vegan ingredients and gluten-free crusts, because Monteverde does not wish to exclude anyone from enjoying a slice. That also fits into the sustainable vision the proprietor has embraced: customers order to go will get their pizzas in tradition paper pizza bags, for example, instead of bulkier boxes, to reduce waste. Monteverde says that a regular at Mexican Kitchen, the late Dan Guenther, heavily influenced this drive for living more lightly on the planet.
Monteverde, now back in the same space where this New Paltz adventure began, doesn’t want any additional side trips, saying, “I want to stay here the rest of my life.” Apizza could be open for service as soon as the weekend of June 5.
Inside 125 Main Street, customers of Burger Box will be able to enjoy something that’s “not your average cheeseburger,” according to proprietors Steph and Tiffany Verney. The sisters grew up around food, and their shared love of cooking led to local experience such as menu-planning and working at Butterfield in Stone Ridge. They hope that a background in upscale dining and appreciation of the more casual atmosphere often preferred in New Paltz will lure in local residents and tourists alike.
What will be setting these burgers apart from average is the fact that each of the ten or eleven varieties — including some that are vegan and free of gluten — has been designed with a specific experience in mind. Built from local ingredients, the toppings will not be offered a la carte, but assembled into menu items that one might expect at any restaurant with casual dining. Patrons will have eight different kinds of fries from which to pick, including what’s being called “frachos” — fries that are loaded up with toppings the way that one expects nachos to be. According to Steph Verney, “They’re a guilty pleasure that never feels guilty, because the ingredients are fresh and local.”
To convert the space, the Verney sisters have learned a fair amount about remodeling, too. To create a “modern industrial vibe” inside, they have rolled up their sleeves to paint, hang sheet rock, lay flooring, refinish tables and reupholster chairs. The bones of the space are much the same, but the atmosphere has been transformed by this hands-on effort. They have even conscripted the existing bar into service, with local beer, cider and wine being available for consumption.
Those craving one of these artisanal burgers should look for the “open” sign to be hung out front by mid-June.