New area restaurants are on the menu for Andes
By Matthew J. Perry
The sign remains, but the Cantina Mexican restaurant, ideally located at the intersection of Main Street and Route 28, in Andes, has closed its doors.
Its owners, Tom Joyce and Deborah Schneider, had been looking to sell the building and retire. After they reportedly received an offer this winter, they surprised the community with the restaurant’s sudden demise.
“It’s a shame,” says one Andes resident. “We did better with two nighttime destinations.”
Don Hogan, who has operated the town’s general store for 10 years, agreed. Immediately he saw a potential use for an extension he put on his building three years ago.
“The space has always been under-utilized,” Hogan says. “Most of my business is still take-out. After five o’clock, there’s hardly ever anyone back there.”
Hogan began discussions with local businessman Andy Wos, who expressed interest in financing a conversion of the space into a restaurant and bar. Hogan states that they met with the former chefs of Cantina and discussed the possibility of creating a new Mexican restaurant, with roughly 75 seats.
“I talked about the idea with everyone in town,” says Hogan. “And just about everyone liked it.”
But objections were raised before the planning board in January and the zoning board last week. Dorothy McArdle, owner of Apple Tree Realty with her husband, Jim, says that a number of her neighbors share her concerns about the project.
“We have real concerns about the density of the proposed business adding to the density of the existing business,” McArdle says. She says that she talked with Hogan and Wos before speaking out before the planning board. The focus on her objections was parking, which McArdle believes would be inadequate for two businesses and likely would not meet town zoning law.
Since the plan was unveiled in its infancy, neither board was in a position to take action. But for Hogan and Wos, the opposition made it clear that they would not be able to put the plan on the fast track.
Wos, reached by e-mail, stated that he is not yet certain the project is feasible. Hogan is convinced it could be done, but expressed frustration that any plan to bring new business to the community, in a harsh economic climate, would be resisted.
“I’ve been here for 10 years and I think I’ve always done the right thing for this community,” Hogan said. “I’m not getting rich here. There isn’t a large profit margin in my business.”
The original plan called for an extension of the building into the parking lot, and included a deck; which would overlook the Tremperskill stream, which runs behind the store. Hogan says the restaurant would cater to families. The pizzas that are made for customers of the store would also be available to diners.
“I’d be operating two separate businesses,” Hogan says. “Because of the liquor license.”
On the outskirts of the town, another restoration is on the horizon. The Andel Inn, which has been shuttered for three years, is under new management and is advertising itself as a steakhouse. While no date has been set for the opening, local advertisements declare the new establishment is “opening soon.” The new owners also reportedly operate Wood’s Luncheonette and Grocery in Delhi.
Meanwhile, the former site of the Cantina will reportedly next house an antiques and framing shop. No details on the new owners, or their plans, were immediately available.
The fate of the Hogan’s expansion may not be decided for some time. Hogan himself remains convinced the project is viable. He also does not believe there are any town regulations that would prohibit his expansion.
“They can’t stop us,” he says. “But they can cost us a lot of time and money. That might be too much right now.”