2016-09-28 / Business

Zephyr Restaurant has already put down roots

Farm-to-Table fare wins with locals and visitors

In the two short years since it opened, The Zephyr Restaurant has firmly established itself as one of the region’s “must visit” restaurants and developed a clientele of both seasonal visitors and permanent residents. The Pine Hill eatery, owned and operated by Michael and Amelia Hegeman, serves fresh, local, farm-to-table fare for dinner Thursday through Monday nights and offers a Sunday brunch morphing into dinner from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each weekend.

With an eye to the history of community, the Hegemans took their business name from an historic ice cream and candy shop operated in the same building in the late 1800s. It’s vintage all the way, with hardwood floors and ceilings and framed photos of “The Candyman” (who once owned The Zephyr) and copies of the Pine Hill Optic from 1917. On Sunday afternoon and again on Thursday evenings, live music by talented locals makes the place feel like home.

Keeping favorites and seasonal variety, too

“I would change the entire menu every season if I could,” says Amelia, speaking of the seasonal flavors that come from places like Madalyn Warren’s Straight Out of the Ground. “Every season has something special and that’s what we want to feature.” But, adds Michael, “There are menu items that we just have to offer or our regular’s get really upset.” So comfort foods like chicken pot pie and carrot cake share the menu with mussels and cedar-plank salmon that are always available. “And the zucchini fritters,” adds Michael. “Some people come just for the fritters.”

While all restaurants try to have menus with wide ranging appeal, the Hegemans’ range is significant. With apps ranging from nachos to crab cakes, salads from Caeser to quinoa and entrees from burgers and chili to pastas and pork loin chops, roast duckling, and rib eye steak, vegan, vegetarian and gluten free diets are served with the same creativity offered to omnivoires. Amelia adds that desserts are popular again these days and even there, the offerings meet everyone’s needs. “Our most popular desserts are the carrot cake, the rice pudding, and the flourless chocolate cake,” she says, noting the dietary needs her desserts accommodate.

What’s on tap: a loyal crew to welcome you

Matty Hanon runs the bar and never misses an opportunity to greet a customer or tell a tale. The affable barkeep pours reasonably priced craft beers and wines including Keegan Ales from Kingston and Davidson Brothers Nut Ale from Glens Falls. A basic wine list has offerings from New York to Paris and mixed drinks are a specialty. Hegeman says that he’s got a core group of staff who started with them and have remained there, giving the place stability and providing familiar faces for those who return each time the season changes.

Asked if the business has evolved as he thought it would, Hegeman chuckles, “You really can’t ‘expect things’ around here. We’ve had one epic winter and one really dismal winter. The business is seasonal with different regulars during the summer, fall, and winter seasons. This summer’s been great and we’re staying strong even after Labor Day. We’re happy.”

The Hegemans, who have firmly planted their roots in Pine Hill, talk about the “Mom and Pop” quality, not just at their place, but in the community. “We’re all Mom and Pops,” he says, speaking of Colonial Inn and Pine Hill Arms near by. “We all work together, old blood and new, and it feels great,” he added. Among the many local producers featured are Lazy Crazy Acres (Tree Juice syrup), Mulligan Creek Acres (pork), Crystal Valley Farm (milk and dairy), and Two Stones Farm (goat cheese).

October 9 Block Party will showcase Pine Hill eateries

The cooperation, within Pine Hill and within the region, will be showcased October 9 when the three collaborate with others in the hamlet to produce the Pine Hill Block Party to benefit the local library and community center. From noon to 4 p.m. the parking lot will be closed and will offer up food trucks, crafts and a Keegan Ale beer tent. “There will be music and crafts and all sorts of activities,” says Hegeman, “and the three of us [restaurants] will carry on the festival theme after the parking lot activities end.” For more information, visit www.zephyr-restaurant.com or call 845-254-8024 for reservations.

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