Photo by Ken Gabrielsen
Opened: July 2016
$10 to $22 entrées
If ever one item captured the essence of an entire establishment, it’s the homemade sprinkles atop the milkshakes at Gracie’s Luncheonette. Devoting time, attention, and effort to such an easily overlooked garnish is meticulous — dare we say unnecessary — and yet it’s reassuring to know there are restaurants that see value in making those colorful confections.
Allyson Merritt and Andrew Spielberg, owners and chefs at Gracie’s Luncheonette, produce so many items from scratch, it’s a wonder they find time to sleep. Among their other in-house recipes are ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce, salad dressings, buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, bacon, brisket, pastrami, sausage, a burger blend, breads and buns, American cheese, donuts, cakes, ice cream, and sodas — to name a few.
The pair got along right from the get-go as students at the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, they helped open restaurants in Massachusetts and Hudson, but Merritt and Spielberg were looking to create a kitchen that fit their personalities and passions. What started as a stand at a Westchester farmers’ market grew into a food truck in Hudson and finally, in July 2016, they took over the former space of Koch’s Restaurant in Leeds to open Gracie’s Luncheonette (although their food truck still operates during the summer).
Modest, modern, and made from scratch — Gracie’s is the diner dreams are made of. Photo by Ken Gabrielsen.
As they renovated the restaurant space, Merritt and Spielberg found old Koch’s menus and decided to use them as inspiration for their rebranding. Gracie’s menu shares several items with Koch’s menu from half a century earlier. This was partly intentional, partly coincidence, but mostly it reflects the pair’s desire to serve their community a classic menu with a quality that was nearly lost to time. How many restaurants flavor their soda with fresh vanilla bean seeds?
“Most people do recognize the quality that we put into our food,” says Merritt, “and their recognition of that makes it worth it.”
“We just love doing this,” Spielberg adds. “We want people to come. We don’t have any end game. We don’t plan on retiring — ever.”