Koch’s Drive-In Restaurant in Leeds was known throughout Greene County (and up and down the Thruway) as great destination for great German/American fare throughout the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. A series of less-than-successful attempts to restore the business to its former glory followed over the past 35 years.
That all changed this summer with the opening of Gracie’s Luncheonette and the renovation of the space into a perfect example of casual elegance. Allyson Merritt and Andrew Steenburn, who have operated Gracie’s Food Truck since 2014, saw an opportunity for a modern diner serving a locally-sourced menu. With a focus on American comfort foods, they make everything from scratch, from baking bread, to smoking bacon, to creating all condiments and fountain drinks in-house.
The vacant space was initially attractive to Ally & Andrew as it had a commissary kitchen downstairs that was perfect for prepping items for the Food Truck. After leasing the kitchen for a few months, they decided to take the plunge into a real brick-and-mortar destination. The transformation began with a total gutting of the upstairs interior space and the replacement of the dark wood interior (and multiple layers of flooring). The unique window configuration of the front dining room became a focal point for the light, open, clean and simple environment to come.
The iconic Drive-In roof sign was rebranded for the new establishment, while keeping the look and feel of a classic luncheonette.
The interior layout was transformed into an open space flooded by natural light through the front and back windows. The rear of the property was re-landscaped to frame a picturesque view of the Catskill Creek, an outdoor patio cooking & gathering space, and a kitchen garden for the freshest ingredients.
“We had a lot of work to do,” says Allyson, “but it’s paid off in the fact that we created an inviting and functional space, with modern kitchen and guest facilities, while keeping with the nostalgic theme.”
A focal point of the new space is the 24-foot marble fountain counter with seating for 10 on classic floor-mounted stools. Patrons are happy to find that adult beverages are served, as well as hand-crafted sodas, milkshakes, and egg creams!
Menu items consist of traditional favorites and surprise specials like hand-pounded & breaded pork schnitzel (a tip of the hat to classic Koch’s). The business employs a dedicated service staff with Allyson running the floor, and Andrew the kitchen – a team destined for success in Greene County.
Gracie’s Luncheonette, located at 969 Main Street, Leeds, NY is open Wednesdays through Mondays from 11 AM to 9 PM and closed on Tuesdays. Eat in, or Take out.
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Topics: Success Stories