Update, 4:21 p.m., May 16:
The next step will be for the town board and Leslie Sutter to start talks about a lease for the train station, New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter said in a follow up interview.
Former Chef Leslie Sutter is proposing a new eatery for the Chappaqua train station that will emphasize fresh food, integration with the downtown and preserving the building as much as possible.
Sutter, along with her supporters, presented details for the restaurant, called Sutter's Track 32, at Tuesday's New Castle Town Board work session. The town owns the station and recently sought proposals for renting out the space. Sutter's proposal is one of two that was submitted.
The presentation placed an emphasis on several themes: creating a destination for the area, cross promotion of nearby merchants, and taking advantage of the building, which was constructed in 1902 and has landmark status. The name is a nod to Sutter's last name, proximity to the train tracks and to the nearby Exit 32 of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
“Kind of returning to their roots of the train station," said Cheryl Bernstein, who noted that The Flying Pig operated at Mount Kisco's train station from 2000 to 2006, with 70 seats plus outside. For its remaining five years, until , it operated on Mount Kisco's Lexington Avenue with 100 seats, plus about 45 outside. Sutter's Track 32 will have 60 seats, as well as outside seating.
Bernstein first met Sutter as a customer at The Flying Pig and put up visual work at the restaurant that conveyed its connection with nearby Cabbage Hill Farm - both were owned by Nancy Kohlberg, and the farm supplied livestock. She did the presentation on her behalf, along with Chappaqua architect Wally Toscano.
Food is proposed to be affordable and include products such as chicken, oysters, fresh fish, a pork or beef entree and farm vegetables. The ingredients will be farm-fresh, change weekly and be seasonal.
Sutter's experience in running The Flying Pig out of Mount Kisco's station was noted by her team as a strong point during the presentation, right down to the issue of bathroom maintenance; any tenant will be required to keep the restrooms open to the public as they currently are.
“You don’t shut people out of the bathrooms," Sutter told the board, noting that they got used to a similar situation in Mount Kisco.
The building will remain largely the same as it is now.
“Our feeling is it’s critical to preserve it, not only on the inside but the outside," said Bernstein.
Under the proposal, both the historic parts of the interior and exterior will stay intact. The only significant changes will include overhualing infrastructure in an existing kitchen in the building's southern section that's currently used by Cafe La Track. New mechanical space will be put into the kitchen, according to Toscano, and an air conditioning system will be expanded.
Meanwhile, a former ticket booth will be repurposed as an oyster and drinks bar, with a wooden panel being retracted to open it up. Columns for the booth will be left in place, Toscano explained.
Most of the lobby will stay the same, with benches being used for table seating, along with preservation of wooden paneling and lighting. Overhead pipes will be attached for sprinklers, Toscano said, but will be painted the same color as the ceiling.
Outside, an existing driveway in front of the entrance will be converted into space for outdoor tables.
Toscano told the town board that they will do as little as they need to maintain the space.
“That’s the whole charm and beauty of that all, is just keeping it pretty much the way it is," he said.
Sutter, who would be a part-owner in the venture, hopes to open by this summer. It is anticipated that it will take about 2-3 weeks, according to Toscano, to work on the mechanical changes for the building.
During the construction work, a morning coffee service that's currently provided by Cafe La Track would continue to function.
“You can’t do that to the commuters," Sutter said about shutting down. Providing morning coffee is something that the town wants to see any tenant do, based on the terms of its recent request for proposals.
There are some potential obstacles, however, such as adequacy of parking and signage.
Bernstein told the board that a restaurant of this size, based on looking at other places, would need 30 parking spaces, although she said that number is not needed. One solution, Suspervisor Susan Carpenter told the board, would be to convert some nearby metered spaces from 15-minute status to 2-hour use.
Deputy Supervisor Elise Kessler Mottel asked how many spaces would be needed. Bernstein replied that 20-30 would be ideal, but also said they could deal with metered spaces.
Another challenge that's looming is the town's future construction in downtown, which is part of the Chappaqua Hamlet Plan for infrastructre and beautification upgrades. Bernstein told the board that it is a concern, given that the location is off the beaten path. She suggested having two signs placed in the downtown, including at the intersection of South Greeley and Woodburne avenues.