Editorial: Discovering Oneonta


Discovering Oneonta

Two women met in Oneonta a few Fridays ago, old friends and workmates reconnecting over dinner. One, a bit of a Luddite, remembered her phone but had very little battery remaining. The other, a bit more of one, forgot her phone entirely. They had made arrangements to meet at a restaurant, the Indian Grill on Main Street. The first woman—we’ll call her Sarah—did not visit Oneonta’s Main Street very often. Her trips to the City of the Hills were largely limited to grocery shopping and maybe now and then to Southside Mall. The second woman—for our purposes, Mary–was more social and knew her way around. The Indian Grill was a favorite eatery of hers.

Sarah had forgotten at the eleventh hour which restaurant it was they had decided on. Was it the Thai place on the corner of Main and Chestnut? She called Mary with what little battery she had left. No answer. She texted after parking her car. No answer. Excited and nervous (Sarah doesn’t get out much, you see), she entered the Thai restaurant. “I’m meeting someone,” she said, and was guided to a table. Minutes passed, and Sarah became less and less sure she was in the right place. With the last one percent of her battery power, she Googled “Indian restaurant Oneonta” and with a somewhat sheepish grin made her apologetic exit—“I’m sorry. I think I’m in the wrong restaurant”—heading north on Main to the right one.

The Indian Grill was comfortable and inviting, the server attentive, the food delicious and the servings generous. Mary introduced Sarah to navratan korma, vegetables in a creamy spiced sauce with basmati rice, and vegetable biryani with crunchy cashews, and they shared the dishes between them. They enjoyed naan, a traditional flat bread, dipped in tamarind and mint chutneys. Their conversation was easy and casual. “This place is wonderful,” said Sarah. “Thank you for bringing me.” She could not believe there wasn’t a line at the door to get in, everything was that good.

The women took their time, savoring the food and the company. It had been a while since Sarah had actually gone out to dinner—since before COVID even, she had become a bit of a hermit. As they left the restaurant (with enough leftovers for another meal, maybe two), Mary asked, “Would you like to walk around a bit?” Sarah said sure, not remembering the last time she had strolled just for the fun of it.

And what a walk it was. Oneonta’s Main Street was alive. The weather had been unseasonably warm, with a high of 82 degrees, and the thoroughfare was full of people, young and old, laughing and walking, window shopping and talking. Sarah felt the excitement as they passed NAGS Bar and Kitchen—there was a line there, with a fellow checking IDs. The two women stopped to look at storefront displays as college students capered by excitedly in summer clothes and couples passed, arm in arm, their minds on dinner and drinks.

Sarah and Mary stopped for a time at the corner of Dietz and Main, peering in the windows of the Greater Oneonta History Society, and continued down the length of the Laskaris building–the oldest brick building on Main Street—to admire the murals painted there and to ooh and aah over the gemstones and bling on display at Edward Teleky Jeweler. They then retraced their steps back to Main Street and continued examining storefronts at their leisure all the way to the intersection. Sarah did not linger in front of Simply Thai, lest she be recognized.

The friends walked north now on the opposite side of Main Street, admiring the window displays of The Artisans’ Guild and Green Toad Bookstore, and bemoaning the loss of ArtWare, all the while picking their way through a steady stream of people doing much the same. They remarked on the delightful weather, the busy sidewalks, the crowded restaurants, the noise and the overall vibe. They stopped to admire a doorway painted by the talented James McIlroy, whose vibrant images can be found all over the city.

Mary and Sarah parted at the South Main Parking lot, saying their goodbyes and, “Let’s do this again soon.” Sarah thanked her friend for the wonderful evening and, as she walked to her car, it struck her that she had been missing out. Oneonta was a thriving, bustling little city with much to offer, and not just on Main Street. She thought of the wonderful arts organizations, the many ethnic foods that could be enjoyed, the music and theater options, and the many shops. The two colleges, with sporting events, programs and performances, all open to the public. And so many other places to go and things to do, yet to be discovered.

Sarah is still thinking about that evening, which opened her eyes to an Oneonta she had not previously really seen, and thinking ahead to the next dinner outing. Maybe Thai?

One thought on “Editorial: Discovering Oneonta

  1. Erin Quirk

    Such a great editorial. Oneonta is a hidden gem and Simply Thai is definitely worth the trip!

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