After nearly 50 years as a Woodstock icon, Joshua’s Restaurant and Cafe is on the market, giving Chef/Owner Stefanie Schachter the opportunity to open the next chapter in her life.
“Well, it’s been a great run. It’s been 32 years since I’ve been running it myself, and after my dad passed away, and with COVID…it’s too much for me, and the whole pandemic thing…it changed my view on what’s important for me,” Schachter said when asked why she chose to sell the business.”
Stefanie’s father, Joshua, opened the restaurant in 1972 at the corner of Tinker Street and Tannery Brook Road. He was baker who served in the Israeli Army. Stefanie, who had watched her father cook as a child, took over the business a couple of years after high school. “I was only 20 when I started running the restaurant, and I felt like I never really gave myself the opportunity to see what’s out there,” Schachter said.
The 3360-square-foot building at 51 Tinker Street is listed for $1.225 million. It is in the Hamlet Commercial District and acceptable uses include restaurant, retail, office, hospitality, nightclub and residential. Separate entrances to the first and second floors can allow for separate uses. The building includes a fully-equipped kitchen with walk-in cooler and a waitstaff station. Amy Lonas, associate broker at Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty is handling the listing.
“This has been my whole adult life. It has been great in so many ways, and I’ve made some of my best friends here,” Schachter said. “I’ve been able to help the community in different ways, soup kitchen, donations. I love to light up the tree every year for the community. That’s something I do specifically for the community.”
Last year, in the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, Schachter decided to put the restaurant on the market. In the meantime, she has had some renovations done.
The best buyer would be someone who wants to keep it as Joshua’s, she said.
“In an ideal world, I would stay on and I would train them and show them how I’ve done it, if that’s what they wanted. So ideally, that’s what I’m trying to do,” Schachter said.
While she can’t speak for her staff, she would offer them the opportunity to stay on with the new owner so they could start from day one. “I would like to do it with somebody that has integrity and that is community oriented, because that’s one of the things that I loved about this,” she said. “For me, it was about was about helping with the community and taking care of the community. This restaurant has been part of Woodstock for so long and I’d love to keep it like that.”
The restaurant had its humble beginnings in a single-story building for the first decade and a half. In 1988, while Schachter was still in college, the restaurant closed to make way for construction of the second floor. “That second floor is like a treehouse. It’s like Lord of the Rings to me. I love getting up there when it’s snowing and when the lights are on,” she said.
Schachter recalled making dozens of changes over the years, including making the dining area more casual.
By 2002, sobriety gave Schachter a new outlook on life, and she started taking more time to travel. “I tried to bring back flavors and recipes and stuff from my travels, so it’s a little more branched out,” she said.
It was around that time that Schachter decided to close for the slower Winter months so she could travel more. “I promised myself I’d go to a different country every year. My first country was Costa Rica. I love the Latin communities,” she said. “I love Latin culture of the people. And I’ve been to Asia. I’ve been to Israel. I’ve been to Europe. So I tried to I tried to bring a little bit of that into the mix.”
Schachter said almost everything in the restaurant is made on premises and local ingredients are used whenever possible. “One of the other things that I did when I got sober was I started a garden. I built a big garden at my house and during the summer months, we use vegetables and herbs and stuff from the garden,” she said.
The bench is a special place for many people
Schachter reminisced about a garden that used to be around the tree in front of the restaurant. Because she was so busy working in the restaurant, Schachter didn’t have time to tend to the garden. Instead, she had a bench built around the tree and it has become a favorite spot.
“I love watching people sit on the bench. Yeah, when I’m inside the restaurant working, I love to watch people sit on the bench. Actually, I redid it because I couldn’t find anyone to redo it,” she said.
Since this will be her last winter, Schachter said people will be surprised when they see the tree this time. It will be more than the normal adorning of lights.
Time for a new chapter
“It’s definitely a tough business, but it’s great and I like the hustle and bustle and I like people, but life’s about change, and 32 years is a long time to do the same thing every day,” she said.
Schachter is grateful she was able to carry on the business for her parents.
“I was able to talk to my dad about this before he passed away and he gives me his blessing. He doesn’t want me to do this just to carry on his legacy because he was proud of me for carrying on his legacy all these years, and I did it for 32 years.”
Schachter said she will likely do a Joshua’s pop-up restaurant if the new owner doesn’t keep it the same. “If someone doesn’t, then I would find ways to still be able to feed people. That’s what I like to do.”