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News of Otsego County

Caspar Ewig

Main Street mainstay turns 100
Some of the Cooperstown Diner’s regulars who stop by each morning, left to right: Dave Bliss, Dennis Hascup, and Earl Peterson

Main Street mainstay turns 100

By Ted Potrikus

Ah, the Cooperstown Diner. That table in the back sure looks promising, let’s sit there!
But wait – there’s a placard clipped into the condiment tray, on which is printed a brief verse:
“To ye whose eyes rest upon this spot/Let it be known that it’s already got/by a daily knot of men of Cooperstown.”
Often true in 2021 at the 136½ Main Street landmark, and often true since the original owners opened the doors one century ago.
But if the ‘daily knot’ is in its appointed spot, you can always pull up a stool at the counter or take a seat at one of the other tables there.
This year, Cooperstown Diner manager Caspar Ewig marks the 100th anniversary of the restaurant’s December 9, 1921 groundbreaking with a new menu featuring all-time diner favorites, new offerings, specials, take-out, and everything that has made the place a village mainstay for years.
That ‘daily knot’ of Cooperstown residents? One would be hard-pressed to find a Cooperstown resident of any gender who hasn’t, more than once, worked out a problem, mapped out a strategy, plotted a new course, caught up with friends, or done just about anything else convivial over a meal at the Cooperstown Diner.
And often at that back table.
Mr. Ewig took the helm at the Diner just as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and, as The Freeman’s Journal reported at the time, prepped it for reopening for take-out in May 2020.
“We love that this is a place where locals know they can stop in for a good meal at a good price,” he said while sorting through the prior day’s tickets and talking about inventory.
“That’s the part of the job that’s not as much fun as coming up with menu ideas and trying out new dishes,” he said. “We have to run the business in the right way to keep the doors open and keep people coming in.”
“It’s great to see so many familiar faces coming in all the time,” he said.
“Think about this,” Mr. Ewig said. “For one hundred years, people have been eating at this very spot. Talking about their businesses, meeting with friends, sitting at the counter for a good meal.”
Mr. Ewig shared a piece of paper over breakfast and a cup of coffee.
“I’ve done a little research into other things happening in 1921 and came up with this whole list of food products that first appeared the same year they first broke ground on this diner,” he said. “Wise Potato Chips. Wheaties. Eskimo Pies. Laughing Cow Cheese. The Baby Ruth candy bar!”
“It looks like 1921 was a great year for longevity in the food business,” he said.
The Cooperstown Diner’s outward appearance hasn’t changed all that much in decades, the interior remaining as inviting and authentic as one could hope in a time when the world around it seems to be hyper-modernizing at
every turn.
“The good news is I’ve finally settled on a really good coffee to pour,” Mr. Ewig said. (Editor’s note: Can confirm.)
As he sketched out some menu thoughts, he added, “We’re working on some ideas for family-style dinners and comfort food, and of course we have our breakfast and lunch regulars.”
Like any manager of a small business, Mr. Ewig wears a lot of hats in the Cooperstown Diner. Manager, waiter, chef, cook, busser, cashier, community ambassador, troubleshooter.
“I hadn’t thought I’d be doing something like this but when it became a possibility, I thought, ‘why not?”
he said. “Now I get to kick it off for another century on Main Street!”

Balloons, Takeout Open ‘New’ Cooperstown Diner

Balloons, Takeout Open

‘New’ Cooperstown Diner

With balloons and a sidewalk promotion, the Cooperstown Diner’s new manager, Caspar Ewig, reopened the venerable local eatery for takeout service today. Assisting him was Jack Funk, right, of Edmeston, a five-year employee who returned to help the new manager. Ewig said the first order of the reopened establishment was an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich. The phone number on the diner’s website is out of date; to connect, call 607-282-6347. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Retired Maritime Lawyer Steers Cooperstown Diner
From This Week’s Edition
Of The Freeman’s Journal

LANDMARK OPENS TODAY FOR TAKEOUT

Retired Maritime Lawyer

Steers Cooperstown Diner

Caspar Ewig, who moved Upstate after retiring from a maritime law firm in Yonkers, is running the Cooperstown Diner for the Hayfords. It opens Thursday for takeout. (Jim Kevliin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

“She told me that if we started dating, Cooperstown was in my future,” he said. “She spent every summer up here, taking horseback riding lessons from the Moffats and staying with her aunt on Pioneer Street.”COOPERSTOWN – When Caspar Ewig met his wife, Patricia, in 1973, she had a condition for going steady with her.

Now, 47 years later, he’s fulfilled that edict, taking over as the new manager of the Cooperstown Diner, which is reopening for take-out Thursday, May 28.

“I was looking for something to do and I saw the diner was looking for a manager,” he said. “I called Scott Hayford” – longtime owner Earle Hayford’s son – “and the rest is history.”

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY

OMG! Retired Maritime Lawyer Steers Cooperstown Diner

OMG!

Retired Maritime Lawyer

Steers Cooperstown Diner

Caspar Ewig, who moved Upstate after retiring from a maritime law firm in Yonkers, is running the Cooperstown Diner for the Hayfords. It opens Thursday for takeout. (Jim Kevliin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The 13-ounce OMG! burger, written up in Time and other national magazines, will remain on the menu.

COOPERSTOWN – When Caspar Ewig met his wife, Patricia, in 1973, she had a condition for going steady with her.

“She told me that if we started dating, Cooperstown was in my future,” he said. “She spent every summer up here, taking horseback riding lessons from the Moffats and staying with her aunt on Pioneer Street.”

Now, 47 years later, he’s fulfilled that edict, taking over as the new manager of the Cooperstown Diner, which is reopening for take-out Thursday, May 28.

“I was looking for something to do and I saw the diner was looking for a manager,” he said. “I called Scott Hayford” – longtime owner Earle Hayford’s son – “and the rest is history.”

A native of Germany who was raised in Yonkers, Caspar and Patricia, the bookkeeper at his office, Hill, Rivkins LLP, married in 1977. She died in 2005.

A maritime lawyer, he worked at the firm until he retired in 2017. “I got to my 71st birthday and I was still ready to work, but they wanted me to retire,” he said.

Ewig will be offering “the bottomless cup”: For $15, you can drink all the coffee you want for a year.

The Ewigs had purchased a home on Route 166 near Cooperstown, where they planned to retire. “We’d go to the diner a lot when we came up to Cooperstown,” he said. “We’d get that
humongous hamburger!”

Meanwhile, their daughter Kathy has been living there with her son, Jason; her daughter Gabby, and Gabby’s twins, Sean and Amanda, are at SUNY Poly, near Utica, and SUNY Fredonia, respectively.

Ewig’s son, Fred, father of Emily, 11, and twins Rebecca and Ryan, 6, lives in Princeton, N.J.
Last October, Casper moved up from Jersey City and, in April, saw the listing for the new diner manager online.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” he said. “Every church we ever attended, I always helped out with the cooking for luncheons and celebrations.”

After 9/11, he said, he got some restaurant experience helping a friend run her restaurant, Giovanni’s Atrium, in Brooklyn, while she took care of her ailing husband. “I thought I might like to cook,” he said.

The diner has been closed since the pandemic started, and Ewig’s used the time to study the menu and the operations. “I’m a big fan of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’,” he said. “The diner has a great reputation; right now it’s just about tweaking some of the offerings and making sure they all travel well for when people do take-out.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s not going to put his own touch on the diner. “The breakfasts are always good, but the dinners left something to be desired,” he said.

To start, he’s going to add his specialty quiches to the menu. “I’m a big fan of quiche, so I’m going to make individual ones – spinach and ham and broccoli – in little four-inch pans.”

German specialties may soon follow. “The diner has very standard offerings, but I want to do some food that’s more interesting,” he said.

He’ll also offer a $15 “bottomless cup” – buy the mug and it will be filled free for a year every time you come in.

“The staff is very loyal and very eager to open up again,” he said. “There’s nothing better than having a staff who knows the place.”

And, he’s keeping the OMG! Burger – 13 ounces, and written up by Time magazine – among the offerings.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103