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Station front at bottom, tracks at top; drawing by Wallace Toscano
May 18, 2012
by Christine Yeres
The chef and pastry chef of the former Flying Pig visited a town board work session last Tuesday to present their proposal for a 60-seat restaurant in the historic 1902 Chappaqua Train Station building owned by the town. Their plan would have Sutter’s Track 32, a “moderately-priced, family-affordable” restaurant open by summer – this summer.
“The Flying Pig” was born in 2000, as a 70-seat restaurant at the Mt. Kisco Train Station. After seven years The Flying Pig moved to its 100-seat space on Lexington Avenue before closing at the end of last year. Speaking for Chef Lesley Sutter and Pastry Chef Shelley Smedberg, Cheryl Bernstein told town board members that The Flying Pig still has a loyal base of fans who have pressed the group steadily to return to the food scene. Not only patrons, but former staff members, too, stand ready to come back, she said, from their current jobs.
As in its former incarnations, Sutter’s Track 32 (a nod to Chappaqua’s train station, another to its Saw Mill Exit 32) would remain committed to sustainable agriculture and relationships with the farmers and artisans who supply its farm-fresh, seasonal foods. Citing Sutter’s long experience and philosophy of “community through food,” Bernstein praised Sutter and Smedberg for their “fresh, healthy, honest style of cooking. They have received countless awards for their commitment to food and for allowing the ingredients to take center stage.”
Pastry Chef Shelley Smedberg, Chef Lesley Sutter and Cheryl Bernstein with food photos at town hall
Bernstein made a point too of the team’s intent to make Sutter’s Track 32 a destination location that would benefit both diners and retailers, declaring, “It serves us well to cross-promote one another.”
Conditions: Coffee for commuters, restrooms to remain open to the public
The town’s “request for proposals” to which Sutter, Bernstein and Smedberg responded has its peculiarities: the town wanted a tenant that would continue to provide commuters with their morning coffee and breakfast, and wanted the restrooms to remain open to the public. No problem, Bernstein told town board members. The three have great respect for commuters’ coffee and breakfast habits, and plan even during renovations to remain open for them from Monday through Friday, 4:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. And they were accustomed to public use of restrooms at their Mt. Kisco train station location.
Minimal changes, to be ready for summer
In drawings of the proposed restaurant, local architect Wallace Toscano showed minimal changes to the existing building. In his plan, the drive-through lane along the front of the station sports tables and chairs under the timbered overhang, tables with umbrellas on either side of it, and low planters setting off the space. Besides its early-morning hours, the restaurant would be open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; on Saturday and Sunday for brunch from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Inside, Toscano showed the existing ticket booth intact – minus the bars and protective plastic—serving as a beverage and oyster bar, with counters and stools along two sides. Existing train station benches, dining tables and chairs would fill all other open areas. The current Café La Track area would be Sutter’s kitchen, with some improvements in infrastructure and air conditioning. (Café La Track now operates on a month-to-month lease.)
Change some 15-minute parking to two-hour
Parking for a restaurant this size, Bernstein told board members, should require between 20 and 30 spaces. Supervisor Susan Carpenter suggested that some of spaces closest to the station, now with a 15-minute limit, be changed to allow two-hour parking. In response, Bernstein testified that two-hour metered spaces had worked well for The Flying Pig at the Mt. Kisco train station location.
Signage to help get through town’s next infrastructure project
Bernstein noted that although The Flying Pig was located only one block from a main thoroughfare in Mt. Kisco, it had taken a good two years for customers to become fully aware of its location. She asked town board members whether the town would allow them to place Sutter’s Track 32 signage at a couple of key locations in the hamlet to point the way. Bernstein was especially concerned since she had heard of the town’s plans to redo the sewer lines under South Greeley Avenue in 2013 or 2014. Town board members admitted that the hamlet would feel the effects of the infrastructure project, but that plans were already in the works to create more signage within the downtown.
The town board will consider whether to accept the proposal and discuss the terms of a lease.