The Woodstock Plaza, formerly Bradley Meadows, has undergone a transformation, with all its retail spaces now filled with thriving businesses.
Partners Bob Pearl and Bob Whitcomb have carefully chosen the types of retailers and professionals that work well together. Long-time tenants Sunflower Natural Foods and Bank of Greene County are now neighbors with Medo Woodstock and Unfiltered Wine & Spirits, profiled in Part 1 of this mini-series. In this installment, we will look at Caffe and Woodstock Healing Arts.
The towns newest coffee shop, modeled after an Italian cafe, is a partnership between Woodstock native Angela Spinelli and her brother, Joe, who joined together after realizing careersin the area were limited.
“We went to college away from here, and then there was no opportunity to come back, because there really weren’t jobs. And so we both lived away,” Spinelli said.“He’s been in Manhattan ever since he graduated college, and I was in South Florida. And then I came back about four and a half years ago. Every time we would visit or come to town, we were always lookingfor good coffee…And we never found what we were looking for. So when I moved back four years ago, we started working on an idea to create a place that had food that we grew up eating when we were kids, and good coffee.”
One thing led to another, and Caffe opened July 2021.
“It was just the feeling like we wanted to see if we could create a community place where we could offer good paying jobs where people could actually afford to live in the area. And where we could make food that we grew up eating and drinking coffee. So it came from a simple place,” Spinelli said.
As the pandemic wore on, things changes and like everywhere else, Spinelli said it’s now hard to get employees. Once hired, they tend to stay. But the pool of applicants is shrinking. She’s had as many as 11 employees and as few as six.
“The sweet spot for us is like eight or 10, depending on the season, and depending on how many hours they work,” she said.“Some of our staff goes to school. So during the school year, or during the semesters, they can’t work as many hours.”
Spinelli said she encourages her employees to get an education and pursue other interests.
“If it turns out that they spend a career working with us, that’s awesome. But we want them to grow and learn and find out what else is out there.”
It’s not just great coffee that can be enjoyed here. The bumbolinis, or Italian filled doughnuts are to die for. They have some filled with vanilla creme, coffee creme, raspberry jelly or Nutella, the hazelnut chocolate spread. Tasty wraps and croissant sandwiches hit the spot for lunch as well.
Everything is handmade, including the bumbolinis, which are yeast-based doughnuts that have to proof and rise.
“It’s not a short process. The dough for tomorrow’s bumbolinisare made today. They cold-proof overnight and are fried in the morning, Spinelli said.
While there is plenty of space to sit down and relax, having grab-and-go items is key, she said.
Things are going so well, Spinelli is working on a second location at the Hotel Dylan at Maverick Road and Route 28. Hotel guests will have some great breakfast options and skiers will have a place to stop on their way to and from the slopes.
“And then we’ll figure out number three,” Spinelli said.“We just feel like it’s a business that you could see in any town.”
The plaza was a great choice for the first location with ample parking and Sunflower Market as the anchor, she noted.
For more information, check out caffewoodstock.com
Woodstock Healing Arts
The multidisciplinary Healing Arts Center on the side of that old A&P building (longtime townspeople will remember that the brick building once housed a supermarket) is where Woodstock native Ben Fleisher has run his practice for six years.Services including chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture and psychotherapy are all under one roof.
“I’ve just always had the kind of calling to do this kind of work. I grew up here and my parents were kind of recovering Brooklyn Jews,” Fleisher joked. “We were interested in Buddhism and had Buddhists around the house, so it was around. I had a handful of friends who are pretty spiritual so I was always curious about that. I started studying it when I was in high school and then in college, I studied psychology and Buddhism. And then I got out of college and was like, well I don’t want to be a psychologist at 21, and I don’t want to be a monk, so I started doing massage therapy…It’s a way of working with people and seeing how the mind and body are related, but in a low-stakes way.”
Fleisher worked in massage therapy for several years and decided he couldn’t do it forever because of its physical demands.
Around that time, in 2004, Ben’s brother Amos died very suddenly at the age of 31.
“So after he died, it was kind of like, okay, well, it’s time for me to a get over it and start working with people, because heavy shit happens to everybody, me included,” he said.“I didn’t feel like a young, naive, innocent anymore. It was like, oh, that was my first round to hell, and it was earlier than most people get their first round to hell. So I probably have something to offer. So I wanted to find a way to help people more.”
That’s when Fleisher delved into the world of acupuncture and zero balancing, a mind-body therapy that balances body structure and energy.
Fleisher has 22 years of experience, with the last six in the Woodstock location, where he has assembled a team of more than 20 professionals in various fields, including massage therapy, Reiki, chiropractic, psychotherapy, integrative medicine, energy therapy, relationship coaching and more. Not all are on-site at the same time, but Fleisher can pull from the roster upon request. With some disciplines, visits can be virtual.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the practice hard, and it had to close for awhile, but Pearl and Whitcomb were flexible with rent, for which Fleisher is thankful.
But now, things are in full-swing, with around 30 people per day coming through the door.
Fleisher said a lot of his patients have histories of trauma or chronic illness that can’t be addressed with Western medicine.
In recent years, insurance has covered therapies that would have been considered to be experimental or not medically necessary in the past. Fleisher estimates more than half of the acupuncture patients are covered by insurance.
When not seeing patients, Fleisher spends time with his three children, age 2, 7 and 8.
For more information, see woodstockhealingarts.com.