By Jamie Larson
You hear it all the time: those who occasionally visit Hudson will remark on the many changes they've encountered since their last swing through town. New businesses are always opening and the end of summer 2015 was an especially active time for the little city’s business district, with establishments of all kinds opening their doors. But it’s not just quantity. The quality of Hudson’s new businesses continue to elevate the Hudson experience for both residents and visitors alike. Here are five new hotspots to check out next time you're there.
731 Warren Street
Formerly the Warren Inn Motel, the completely transformed Rivertown Lodge is thoroughly hip, and perfectly Hudson. With a mix of clean, finished modern carpentry and tastefully selected antiques, Rivertown Lodge is filled with beautifully designed rooms and a light-filled lobby that lends charm and calm. The supreme sophistication of the hotel is the work of partners Kim Bucci and Ray Pirkle. The latter's experience in the New York hotel business, including at the Soho Grand, more than prepared them to run a hotel that blends the familial comfort of a mom-and-pop outfit with the high-design vision appropriate for the new Hudson. With record players, fireplaces and bikes to borrow, Rivertown is a great way to set the tone for visitors looking to lose themselves in the town.
366 Warren Street
There are more stores to shop and browse in Hudson than you could possibly hit in a day. But the new location of Hudson Home, a Warren Street staple for more than a decade, is a must see. Recently reopened in the renovated warehouse of the old Register Star
newspaper building in the dead center of town, HH is gorgeous inside and out. With half of the upstairs removed, the gallery presents furnishings, housewares, art and gifts in a massive loft space bathed in light from large windows. Where overworked and underpaid reporters once slaved away in a dingy office for a dying medium, now modern elegance is elevated by expert presentation and a mastery of design. Founders Richard Bodin and Greg Feller helped set the trend of what a Hudson home should feel like, and with their striking new location they're proving they're also in control of driving it forward.
“We spent a long time trying to get this space so we could present the things we love in the way we envisioned it," Bodin says. “We hope people will use it in their own lives. We want to help people create spaces that feel inviting and soothing."
35 South Third Street
The coolest new place in town to get a cocktail is the stylish bar/art gallery/café (with food prepared by the specialty shop Talbott and Arding
) built in a former auto garage. With its big bay doors, open or shut, this Norse-modern bar is spare and airy. A lot is accomplished within the space. There’s gallery space to the right, picnic tables for café patrons to the left and a massive center island bar made with no screws or glue by co-owner, sculptor and furnituremaker Adam Loomis. He and fashion photographer Jennifer Tzar have created an incredibly original establishment. There’s sort of a purposeful unfinished quality to the way things are laid out and in the raw finish of the bar, tables and walls around the patio. It’s as if the next time you come in, a totally new aspect might have been constructed. On top of all that, the food is great, with offerings of bold cheese plates, sandwiches, salmon and trout rillettes and much more. The drink selections are comprehensive and the cocktail menu is inventive.
347 Warren Street
The other coolest new place in town to get a cocktail is the stylish bar/antique shop/café (with food prepared by the kitchen at Zak Pelaccio’s Fish & Game
) built in a former auto garage. While you may be experiencing some deja vu, the similarities between Back Bar and Ör end at their description on paper. The feel of Back Bar is all about texture. The collection of high-end antiques and more playful garage-y elements are accentuated by the wall of windows behind the stools, which are, of course, actually the old bay doors of the former gas station and repair shop. The narrow speakeasy vibe when the doors are down creates the impression that you’re in on a secret. Even when the doors are up — revealing the more spacious back patio — you’re still hidden, closer to the narrow alley than to Warren Street. You actually kind of are
in on a secret; Back Bar has only a small sign alerting you to the fact that there even is a bar tucked into designer Michael Davis’s 3FortySeven
gallery, next to the food truck court, and there’s no website or phone number.The food and cocktails are worth the visit, but it’s the seemingly effortless, cool, multicultural, quasi-industrial style (synonymous with Davis) that creates the memorable experience at Back Bar.
504 Warren Street
Just five years after opening its first cafe in Lenox and two years after launching its second location in Great Barrington, Patisserie Lenox has come to Hudson. Acclaimed pastry chef Jean Yves and wife Yulia, who manages and designs the non-pastry aspects of the menu, were embraced quickly. The packed displays of pastries, confections and desserts are mesmerizing, and the comfortable feel of the place will be welcoming to visitors from the Berkshires — there’s that decidedly European mountain café feel that seems to be a part of the Western Mass. style. Yulia Yves said they always liked Hudson and felt it needed a casual café, where you could get in and out of for a treat or soup and sandwich, but that's up to par with the town’s growing sophistication. Jean Yves certainly has the pedigree to pull it off with the same flare as his other endeavors. He graduated first in his class at one of the top pastry schools in Paris, worked eight years as the pastry chef in a four-star Manhattan restaurant, opened eight cafés on Long Island, created fresh pastries for major European airlines and made specialty cakes for dignitaries, including the former president of France, Jacques Chirac, and the King of Morocco. And now you can taste his work while walking down the street in our constantly evolving Hudson.