People to Watch
(page 5 of 11)
Photograph by Dan Stein
Megan Fells & Charles Fells Jr.
By: Lynn Hazlewood
Chef Charlie Fells grew up in Poughkeepsie, and remembers when Main Street was a thriving thoroughfare. As a child (he’s 42 now), he’d shop with his parents at M. Schwartz, a clothing store that went out of business in the 1980s, after the malls began draining commercial life from downtown. Although the city tried to reverse the trend by converting two blocks of Main Street to a pedestrian mall, it wasn’t long before most of the remaining shops were forced to close or move. As storefronts were boarded up, vagrancy and crime rose. “I saw it go from great to bad,” says Fells.
Yet in 2005, when Fells and his girlfriend Megan Kulpa, also a chef, decided to open a restaurant, they opted to lease space in the old M. Schwartz building. Although by then the mall had been reopened to traffic, and a few landlords were renovating once-stately Victorian buildings, gentrification was a long way off. “But we saw that there were people taking a chance on Poughkeepsie,” says Charlie. “We thought we’d be the jewel in the rough.”
Megan Fells (the couple married in ’07) is now 30, and grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut. Like many a Culinary Institute graduate, she loves the Hudson Valley and says she was “not turned off” by Poughkeepsie’s grittier side.