The Central in Peekskill | Photo courtesy of Dave Zucker
Many of Westchester’s food-and-beverage establishments are enjoying overnight success by turning their day-to-day MO on its head when the sun sets.
The idea of a local dive bar hosting a high-brow trivia night is far from a new concept in Westchester, but how about a place that serves barista-level lattes in the morning and expertly executed craft cocktails in the evening? Or a café whose pancakes by day surpass those of that well-known international house, while its wine list lures oenophiles by night? This relatively new notion of one business model while the sun shines and another at sundown is not only possible; it really works — and these creative, uber-flexible trendsetters are making it sing.
When Charmaine Sanchez and Dante Charlton launched this downtown eye-opener at the height of the pandemic, their goal was a place “where people get to know each other,” over a cuppa and a nosh from a small, house-crafted menu. The moment indoor sipping restrictions lifted, the pair went full-steam with their vision for a community-centered space where weekly open-mic nights, spoken-word gatherings, live music, and speeding-dating events attract night owls in search of more than just a morning caffeine buzz.
Bustling at the break of dawn to fuel the morning commute and midday coffeeholics, too, this elevated brew stop at the old Metro-North train depot dishes up pastries, overnight oats, and noontime pressed sammies before pivoting on frequent weekend evenings to Apero Nights, a European-style cocktail-and-tapas soiree. Early in 2022, owner Charu Rana plans to debut a proper speakeasy in the adjacent space. “The vibe will be low-key, with dim lighting, deep leather sofas, armchairs, and ambient jazz. Sophisticated without being pretentious.”
If one of the best parts of frequenting a fish market is the opportunity to self-select your dinnertime catch, then a fish market that transitions to a full-on restaurant at dusk is even better. “You can order from the menu or pick out a piece [of fish], and we’ll cook it for you,” says Dean Conte, who helps run this family business, a local institution since 1952. Fresh catches on the daily, plus a beer-and-wine list, make a night at Conte’s the best time you’ll ever have at a fish store.
In a converted train lounge up above the Metro-North platform, strong coffee and signature kimchi bagels and turmeric-blueberry muffins get the morning of to a good start, but when night falls and the weekend comes, it’s a whole other scene out front. “We have transformed our parking circle into a live theater venue for staged performances, an outdoor dance hall for Swing Night, with a live big band, and a pop-up evening skate park with ramps and DJ sets,” says owner Joanna Prisco. And stay tuned: Drag queen story hour is also expected to be an after-dark draw.
Little Drunken Chef
Mount Kisco and White Plains
After a COVID-led hiatus, Saturday-evening dance parties are returning to these “little” locations, where, ’round the stroke of 9 p.m. (in Mount Kisco and now White Plains), the tables are pushed to the walls, a DJ starts to spin, and the entire venue vibrates to a thumping, four-on-the-floor beat. Chef/owner Bonnie Saran offers signature late-night specials to the tune of “finger foods paired well with cocktails.”
In the old Hudson Line train depot and former restaurant space — vacant for more than a decade — this chef-led café pours locally roasted Peekskill Coffee House brews alongside pastries, avocado toast, and lunchy roasted pork loin sandwiches for the early crowd, with an after-dark concept expected (at press time) to roll up later this month. “It’ll be a well-balanced bar, with wine, cocktails, and beer,” says John Sharp, co-owner with fellow Peekskill restaurateur Louie Lanza. A bistro-style dinner menu will sway New American with Mediterranean flair.
At this innovative downtowner, bagels and tummy-tempting BECs get the day off on the right foot. Burgers, dogs, and free rein to build your own sandwich make lunchtime a breeze, but at night, the lights dim, candles flicker, and entrées of red-wine-braised short ribs and yellowfin tuna emerge from the kitchen, complemented by a top-flight bar program. “We have the same regulars ordering breakfast in the morning and then coming back for steak, rotisserie chicken, and fish at night,” says owner Michael Glick, who calls this hybrid concept simple, complicated, and successful.