Saturday, June 29, 2013

In Which We Discover a Gem at a Gas Station

 "We're having breakfast as a gas station?" asked our younger son yesterday morning. Before we headed inside I shot this photo of him, where he offered me the fakest of smiles.

We two had left Saratoga in the early morning to head to Auriesville, New York, where we planned to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs.  I didn't want to fuss with the $9.95 Marriott breakfast buffet so we left our hotel on empty stomachs. I figured we'd find something along the way.

We rode along New York State Route 67, an east-west highway ("This is a highway?" Lucas asked me). Recalling my many days a quarter-century ago cycling these roads, I figured I'd find us some kind of mom-and-pop greasy spoon with linoleum tables, fried eggs and white bread. When we pulled into the gas station, I decided the Route 67 Country Store and Cafe fit the bill. Boy, was I mistaken.

As soon as we stepped inside this cafe, which sits in the middle of farmland at the corner of Peaceable Road and Route 67, I realized how far from memory this place is. I first noticed the enormous sign to our left, advertising innumerable types of espresso. So...this was an espresso bar.

To the right, the de rigueur rural wall of beer - but these were craft beers from Bavaria and other far-away places. In the middle, what looked like hand-hewn wooden tables. So...this is an espresso bar with a craft beer business.

We stepped up to the counter. I was feeling a sense of the surreal. Where was Flo the waitress with attitude, the pencil behind her ear,  and a slightly stained apron? The faces behind the counter were friendly.

The menus were printed in bright paper. I settled on a Black and Blue “Steak” Sandwich:  Two Eggs, Roast Beef, Grilled Onions, Blue cheese Crumbles on Ciabatta for $7.75. My son ordered a Breakfast Sandwich: Egg and Cheese on a freshly baked French Roll. We settled into a table. 

Here is Lucas, still hungry and tired and now slightly less annoyed at mom's breakfast choice. The owner of the cafe greeted the rest of the customers by name - all older men. Eavesdropping as I sipped my morning latte, I discerned they all were farmers.

I chatted with the owner ever so briefly as we paid for our breakfasts and for a six-pack of Saratoga IPA beer, one of more than 200 brands of crafts beers sold. It promised: the balance between our cascade and fuggles hops and the bold Munich malt gives this beer its, clea, crisp, full balanced flavor that makes Saratoga IPA so refreshing delicious.

The owner wasn't loquacious. But when I asked, told me he had landed here from Teaneck, New Jersey and opened the business three years ago. Googling last night, I disocvered his name is Eran Wasserman and that he ended up owning the property after having to foreclose on it.  Long ago, the store was Harmony Corners Country Store and was a vibrant gathering spot for locals. Alas, it lost favor with both the locals and the passing traffic.

Wasserman has managed to transform a country store turned failed gas-n-go into a contemporary version of its original self. I'm so grateful.


  1. OK, this is 15 minutes and less than 10 miles from where I work. I know where I will be headed for breakfast or lunch soon!

    1. Fran: You will love it! There are picnic tables outside in the back and they also do take out. You can see from their webpage they also host a lot of interesting community events!