News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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council rock brewery

You’ll Have It TO GO! From Emergency, Novelty: Folks Around County Pick Up Dinners

You’ll Have It TO GO!

From Emergency, Novelty: Folks

Around County Pick Up Dinners

Mel’s at 22 proprietor Brian Wrubleski packs to-go dinners with the help of daughter Alex Gauther, left, and Tomeka Ray. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – At Brooks House of BBQ, the staff can’t answer the phones fast enough.

“We’re going to add additional phone lines,” said owner Ryan Brooks. “They’re just ringing constantly.

Council Rock Brewery’s Kyle Llewellyn fills a “crowler” can – that’s half a growler – as Manager Becky Davidson supervises. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

With Governor Cuomo’s order that all “non-essential” businesses be shuttered, restaurants can no longer accommodate dine-in customers.

“When the quarantines started happening last week, I walked into work and there were no customers coming in,” said Brian Wrubleski, who owns Mel’s at 22, Cooperstown. “It was like someone took something out of my heart.”

Some, like Morey’s and The Depot in Oneonta, the Doubleday Café in Cooperstown and Jackie’s in Milford, simply closed.

Many others, including Mel’s, Brooks, Council Rock Brewery and The Otesaga’s Hawkeye Grill have quickly adapted to take-out and delivery.

“I don’t think a lot of people know which restaurants are open,” said Council Rock’s Becky Davidson. “But it’s always nice to see some friendly faces.”

Take-out isn’t new to Brooks, but the spread of COVID-19 prompted Ryan to move up his plan to add delivery. “We want to help get people the food they want,” he said. “We deliver within a 10-mile radius with no fee, but it’s a $20 minimum order.”

In addition to the company vans – a frequent sight around the county in the summer – Ryan put his own SUV up for delivery. “The crew is having fun in my car,” he said.

Some, like John Shideler, The Otesaga’s new general manager, are finding ways to add new offerings to their “to-go” menu. “We’ve added a grilled salmon so we have a fish offering,” he said. “And we’re absolutely still offering our desserts: We have a new apple cinnamon bread pudding.”

The response, he said, has been strong. “We’re a favorite in the community,” he said. “The community has been so welcoming to me, and we want our customers to feel comfort knowing that we’re still here.”

“We’ve been doing take-out all along with our fish fry, so we had a busy Friday,” said Davidson. “And I posted on Facebook to let people know that our shrimp and garlic pesto fries are still available, so people know they can still get their favorites.”

“It’s a different methodology,” said Wrubleski. “With dine-in, it’s a full-service interaction with the customer. You make the meal look beautiful on the plate. But we’re trying to make it look beautiful in the take-out box too.”

Although face-to-face interaction has been minimized, he’s still finding new ways to interact with his customers. “I do most of the deliveries myself,” he said. “We include two free cookies with every order, and my daughter Alex writes a little message on every one of the boxes.”

Similarly, The Otesaga is including a card from the staff with each order. “When we re-open, they can bring it to The Hawkeye or The 1909 and get a free glass of wine,” said Shideler. “It’s our way of saying thank you to all the people who are supporting us through these difficult times.”

And Wrubleski is concerned about the employees he had to temporarily lay off. “It’s depressing,” he said. “A lot of people in this industry live paycheck-to-paycheck, and I’m trying to support them as best I can.”

In addition to delivery and manning phones, Ryan has shifted some employees to the bottling plant to keep them on payroll. “These are tough times, but we’ll get through them together,” he said.

“Food is comfort,” said Wrubleski. “We like to try and do things to make people happy.”

Quality, Quality, Quality Will Lure Customers, Brewers Say
5TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON FOOD, FARMING

Quality, Quality, Quality Will

Lure Customers, Brewers Say

“The absolute best” is what local breweries must shoot for to achieve continued success, declares the Red Shed’s David Olson, right. With him are, from left, Ommegang’s Phil Leinhart, Hartwick College’s Aaron MacLeod and Council Rock’s Roger Davidson. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Drink beer from a glass “to produce its full aromatic potential,” MacLeod tells the audience at the Louis Jones Center.

COOPERSTOWN – Asked today for “key factors to success,” four panelists from the local brewing industry spoke as one:  Quality, quality, quality and quality.

Ommegang President Campbell keynoted.

“It all starts with quality,” said Roger Davidson, Council Rock Brewery founder.  “It is fun … (but) I try to do the best I can every single day for consistent quality.”

“If quality isn’t the top of mind, you shouldn’t be a brewer,” said Ommegang’s Phil Leinhart, who has been cited in international competition as the “best in the world” of brewmasters at mid-size operations.

Aaron MacLeod, director of Hartwick College’s Center for Craft Food & Beverage, expanded that to include “the value chain” — hops, barley, malt, all the products that go into beer making.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, MAY 20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, MAY 20

Council Rock To Council Rock

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COUNCIL ROCK RACE – 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Annual race from Council Rock park to Council Rock Brewery 4.4 mile race. Enjoy spring in Otsego County. Cost $25/individual. Council Rock Park, 11 River St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-2800 or visit www.facebook.com/clarksportscenter

FUNDRAISER – 3 – 6 p.m. Get into the spirit of the holiday, paint something patriotic on a large 16”x20” canvas while enjoy a glass of wine or beer. Includes professional instruction by Linda of The Artful Spirits. Cost, $35. Support the Oneonta Vets Club, 279 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-0494 or visit www.facebook.com/OneontaVetsClub/

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, JAN. 31
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for TUESDAY, JAN. 31

Run An Obstacle Course

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NINJA WARRIOR COURSE K-6 – 3:30-5 p.m. Clark Sports Center, 124 Cty. Hwy. 52, Cooperstown.

KNITTING GROUP – 1:30-3:30 p.m. Cooperstown Village Library, 22 Main St., Cooperstown, www.villagelibraryofcooperstown.org/calendar

ICE SKATING – 3-7 p.m. Badger Park, Cooperstown.

NARCAN TRAINING – 3-4 p.m. Become certified to administer NARCAN in an emergency situation. Save a Life. Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego Counties Inc., 22 Elm St., Oneonta. Info, www.friendsofrecoverydo.org

ICE HOCKEY – 6:30-9 p.m. Badger Park, Cooperstown.

DAVE’S FLICK PICKS – 6:30-8 p.m. “Sully” staring Tom hanks in the film adaptation of the events of the Miracle on the Hudson.Cooperstown Village Library, 22 Main St., Cooperstown, www.villagelibraryofcooperstown.org/calendar

TRIVIA NIGHT – 6:30-9 p.m. Council Rock Brewery, 4861 NY-28, Cooperstown

CLICK FOR MORE HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO

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