Flooding woes spur Crazy River Cafe

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For all of the destruction and heartache caused by the wrath of Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011, there were ultimately a few bright spots. The new Crazy River Café & Deli on Route 28, Margaretville is among the positives emerging in the wake of the storm.

Owners Char and Art DeBari opened the Crazy River Café & Deli on April 22, following a year of planning and construction. While they would have preferred to avoid the flood that spurred the move, they are thrilled with the new direction of their careers.

Having operated Now & Then Video on Bridge Street, Margaretville for many years, the couple endured the effects for at least a half-dozen floods. The most recent disaster was by far the most damaging, shifting their historic building off its foundation.

Played it safe
Fortunately, Char and Art had the foresight to remove virtually all their videos and other items from the store before the storm hit. While they saved the store’s inventory, they immediately knew that rebuilding in the same location was not an option. The owners were well insured against storm damage, but they had their minds made up to find a new location that wouldn’t flood.

The day after the flood, the DeBaris peeked in the windows of the former Radio Shack location, which is situated high and dry, adjacent to Route 28. They knew this was the right spot.
“We thought this place was perfect for the video store,” Char recalled.

With the goal of eventually purchasing the real estate, they soon made arrangements to relocate to the Radio Shack building. Once the transaction was complete, Char and Art turned their attention to finding a suitable use for the rest of the sprawling structure.

“Owning a restaurant is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Char explained. “Once we got in, we realized how nice a location it would be for a restaurant.”

She got an early introduction to the food service business, starting as a dishwasher at the Binnekill Square in Margaretville while still in high school. By the time Char left the restaurant after eight years, she was working as a prep chef. She subsequently was employed at several other local food establishments before concentrating full-time on the video business.

New direction
Planning for the Crazy River Café (the restaurant overlooks the East Branch of the Delaware River — but from a very safe elevation!) got underway last April. By August, the video store was moved to the building’s bottom floor and creation of the restaurant got underway on the top level. The project involved a total overhaul of the upstairs of the building, plus purchase of all the equipment needed to run a state-of-the-art kitchen and deli.

Hull Construction of Fleischmanns did the building work, Z Painting of Margaretville applied the serene color palette and the maple tabletops were handcrafted by Gary Mead of Fruitful Furnishings of Margaretville.
The Crazy River Café & Deli includes seating for 30 indoors, with another 20 seats on the newly constructed dining deck.

Great response
Business has been brisk since the opening a little more than three weeks ago. The eatery serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Char and Art have been working at a fast pace, but they’re thrilled with the reception from the community.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Char stated enthusiastically. “People are coming in for breakfast and bringing people back for lunch.”

Char handles cooking duties, along with Ben Cannino. Art is a jack-of-all-trades in the café and the business has five additional employees.

The “early favorites” for customers seem to be choices involving fresh chicken cutlets, Caesar and Cobb salads and Reubens, Char noted. Homemade soup and sandwich specials and bagels from a Hudson Valley supplier have also been popular, as have the Boar’s Head deli products.
Char said that she and Art are planning to eventually incorporate new dishes and other innovations.

For right now, they are just happy to be building a clientele — far above the Crazy River.
The business is located at 42287 State Route, Margaretville. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
For additional information, please call 845 586-6266.