By Nichole Dupont
Despite the fact that it's not that far away, my only visits to Copake, New York have been to see my mother-in-law in her little house on the lake. It’s always a nice drive through farm country, where we would meet at Dad’s Diner for, well, diner food. But on a deadly quiet gray day in Copake, there is one place, among the corner gas station and pizzeria, that is hopping like a gold rush saloon in its heyday. The Copake General Store
(formerly Copake Front Porch) is packed to the rafters on a Saturday. The line reaches almost to the door on the first day of their live music jazz brunch. People are seated everywhere, while couples, whole families, and solo sojourners are throwing back turkey meatball sliders. They are flying out of the kitchen like seagulls.
While I wait, I have time to take the place in. The music is an amalgam of high lonesome guitar and bass (Luke Franco of Tiny Hearts Farm
, and Nick Edwards) and the atmosphere, while anticipatory, is pleasant. Everyone is smiling. Those waiting in line are treated to shortbread cookies, and then a round of spongey apple cake while we make up our minds about what to choose from the specials board, which on this day includes braised pork butt, roast beef banh mi (both $11), a charcuterie sampling, and a turkey bacon sandwich with herbed mayo and pea shoots, along with breakfast staples like bagels and cream cheese, and a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich.
The congenial atmosphere and creative menu items have been carefully curated by the new owners, Seung Suh and her husband Bob Caccamise, who left New York and moved to Ancramdale in 2016. A former writer/producer for WABC-TV, Suh’s long-term ambition was to move to the country and open a general store. In her mind, it would resemble a Norman Rockwell vignette, all neighborly people and good will and a welcoming light. “I want to create that,” she says.
It seems she has. It's not just a take-away eatery. It is actually a general store — complete with a creaky wooden floor, a wide elevated porch and, of course, the staples of rural life. Refrigerators and coolers are loaded with local meats, cheeses and eggs from Jacuterie
, Pigasso Farms
and Chaseholm Farm
. Of course, there is the obligatory produce section with fresh veggies and fruits, and low shelves holding potato chips, canned goods, specialty cooking oils, honey and a gem-colored array of Les Collines
preserves and Grannie Fannie’s jellies. Tay Tea
, a New Delhi, NY artisan blender, is well represented with several of its products, including "Better Than Sex," available for purchase. On the gift-y end of things, the CSG offers up carved L’ouvriere
candles from the Catskills, beauty products and candles from Beacon Bee
, and SallyeAnder
You could definitely stop here and create a meal to take home, or just grab one of the fresh pastries or heartier fare. When it's my turn to order, despite wanting to pack my face with a bagel and lox situation, I ask simply for a croissant the size of a cat’s head and coffee (Irving Farm). I find a tiny spot on the edge of a bench in the middle of the store and listen to a raspy, live rendition of "Summertime" and wonder if I’m the only one who hears the irony.
Leaving the place, and the warmth of people in the middle of their lives, is a melancholy affair. The wind nearly slams the door shut when I go outside to face the gray.
The windows are foggy from the warmth inside and yet I can almost taste lemonade.
Copake General Store
171 County Rte. 7A, Copake, NY
Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Closed on Wednesday