New Year, New Beginnings, New YOU with Beacon's New Boutique Fitness Studios!

  Photo Credits: Instagram feeds of these businesses. Graphic Art Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

Photo Credits: Instagram feeds of these businesses.
Graphic Art Credit: A Little Beacon Blog

It’s a new year, and a new year brings new beginnings and starting new habits for the better! It's a great time to hit the reset button on your health and try new activities. If you are looking to add some fitness into your routine, but may not want to commit to long-term, big-gym memberships, perhaps a smaller boutique gym that specializes in particular workouts may be more your speed. We recently shared what’s new in our Shopping Guide and included The Studio @ Beacon and Zoned Fitness, both on Beacon's Main Street.  

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It’s hard to miss The Studio @ Beacon’s “Coming Soon” sign at 301 Main Street, and it has triggered curiosity from residents peeking through the windows. The Studio owners, Laura and Samantha, shared with me: “We’ve had so much positive feedback and we feel like Beacon is ready for this. We love hearing from people who are excited for what we’re bringing to town.” The Studio @ Beacon specializes in Spin and Boxing classes, which Laura and Sam are very passionate about. They will have their ribbon cutting this month on Second Saturday, January 13.

Zoned Fitness is the first personal training studio in Beacon to offer Heart Rate-Based training, creating a workout regimen specifically for your needs.  Located at 490 Main Street, it was formerly Hudson Valley Fitness, but the business underwent rebranding and reopened in November 2017. They felt the original name did not reflect the type of fitness program they provide - the Zoned Training Method. Zoned training is a style of training that allows the trainee to scale their program, routines and exercise through four zones based on ability or fitness level. In addition to getting in shape, Zoned Fitness also teaches about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. You can sign up for an all-fitness-level class like Boot Camp or HIT (High Intensity Training) or Personal Training for more personalized attention, or if you're working through an injury or other physical limitations.

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If you are looking for more than just a physical challenge but also mind and body, there's a Beacon spot to cover that. Last year, Shambhala Wellness Center at 4 South Chestnut Street underwent an makeover to provide more than just yoga. You can also receive massages, reiki (traditional and shamanic), nutritional counseling, health coaching, cognitive therapy, herbal medicine and psychic readings. You do not need to be a flexible yogi with a Lululemon wardrobe to check out one of their upcoming workshops, like AcroYoga Fundamentals!

[Update 1/12/2018]: And this just in! Beacon Pilates has moved locations after a decade on Main Street in Beacon. Find them now on West Main Street, near the train station. Their upcoming grand re-opening party is in February.

Don't worry about making too much of a change all at once - a big reason why some resolutions don't work out. You don't have to give up (all) of the good stuff. One of the things Laura and Sam love about Beacon is the number of tasty options available. “If you haven’t already, you’re likely to see us around town eating and drinking… We’re not ashamed of our imperfect bodies, so [you might] hear us talking about the Big Bird we just ate at Stock Up, the fish tacos we love from Max’s, or a coffee run to Ella’s Bellas that inevitably includes a few of their insanely delicious salted chocolate chip cookies.” Take baby steps! 

Inclusiveness is the continuing theme for smaller boutiques and studios. They bring a different kind of vibe when it comes to fitness, which can be welcoming for exercise newbies. Being part of a smaller fitness community may be just what you need to stay committed.

Beacon's Fine Copper Critters + Batman Ninja Charms at Beacon Fine Jewelers

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We're betting that you haven't seen these little copper critters yet, created at Beacon Fine Jewelers, Inc. in the middle of Beacon at 284 Main Street. The shop is in that nondescript part of Main Street across the street from the Howland Public Library, so you may have walked past their window several times, maybe making a mental note to see if that ruby ring in your jewelry collection is real or not.

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That's how I first walked in - on the gemstone detective mission - but I was immediately distracted by these little copper critters created by Mitch Rios, the son of Elliot Rios. They both metalsmith from behind the torch in back of the shop. The duo have been working in Beacon since about 2003. They commute over the bridge from Newburgh to their shop here to repair jewelry or clocks on the spot.

Mitch started designing these...droids? copper critters? from old pennies. Fitted with a loop at the top, you could wear it as a charm, hang it from a window or rear-view mirror, or simply collect them as a little standing army. Several of the creative beings are available, each bearing different characteristics.

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In addition to the copper charms (above), Mitch designs character charms out of silver (below), like the Batman ninja piece in this picture, or the Pokémon charm.

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Is there a knife collector in your life? A precise charm may be just what he or she needs. Each of the different types is custom-designed and made by Mitch.

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Of course, you'll also find traditional pieces of jewelry in rows of cases inside Beacon Fine Jewelers. Some items are pieces they have bought from estates, others are their own designs. Do you have an idea for a ring? Sketch it out and bring it to Elliot. He would love to make it for you as a custom piece.

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The Lofts at Beacon Falls - Gorgeous Apartments in the Heart of Beacon in a Historic District (Sponsored)

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The very first pioneers to The Lofts at Beacon Falls, the new apartment complex located in Beacon's Historic District at 50, 52, and 54 Leonard Street (between Grove and Amity), were true out-of-towners: Many of them were parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, of couples who had moved to Beacon with their young families to start their new lives as Beaconites. The Lofts at Beacon Falls are located on the mountain side of Fishkill Creek, just up the road from Dogwood and The Roundhouse. If you sit on the benches across from Wickham Solid Wood Studio and what used to be The Hop, you are looking right at them, though they are hidden behind trees (see the picture below). Current residents moved from Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and other far-off states to settle in here and live within walking distance of Beacon's businesses. Small city living has a strong appeal, and The Lofts at Beacon Falls are delivering on that.

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The Historic District

Because the Lofts at Beacon Falls are nestled into Beacon's Historic District, the newly designed buildings needed to conform to certain standards to keep with a historic look. You'll notice similarities between The Roundhouse complex and The Lofts at Beacon Falls on Leonard Street, with the gray-brown coloring, brick and black trim on the exterior. According to Bob Murphy of the Beacon Historical Society, the property was part of the Matteawan Manufacturing Company; by the mid-1930s, it was the Braendly Dye Works.

 

Insider Tip: If you sit on the benches across from Wickham Studio or the former Hop to reflect on things on the Fishkill Creek, you can see parts of The Lofts at Beacon Falls through the trees.

Another Insider Tip: Leonard Street is one-way if you are driving towards the Lofts at Beacon Falls, so you'll need to take a right on Amity to drive around the block to come into the entrance down Grove Street, which turns into Leonard Street.

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Modern Apartment Life in Beacon's Historic District

Inside, you'll find modern design and amenities of apartment living. Designer kitchens and open floor plans make for a spacious feel in the one- and two-bedroom apartments, trimmed with granite counters, laminate wood floors, and Edison-style lighting. A washer and dryer come with each unit, making it super convenient to plan a cozy day of laundry, tucked inside an apartment surrounded by the wooded landscape of the Fishkill Creek.

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Walk outside of the apartment complex and follow East Main down to Main Street at Beacon's famed Dummy Light, and you're just about at Beacon's East End, an area dominated by more former factory buildings with renovations under way, making room for more art galleries, boutiques and eateries to frequent. Numerous boutiques, including Style Storehouse, Kaight, King + Curated, Lambs Hill Boutique, and more, cater to a variety of personal styles. Need something as specific as a brow wax? Find it at The Blushery, at the T where Main Street meets the end of East Main - just one of the niche storefronts available to Beaconites.

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The Perks

A full workout center is located in the heart of the apartment community for anyone who needs easy access to a quickie workout on the machines. Residents may even bring in their personal trainer for a guided workout. Staying fit is certainly do-able from this location, with access to trailheads on Mount Beacon, as well as nearby fitness centers on Main Street like Zoned Fitness (formerly Hudson Valley Fitness), and the Shambhala Wellness Center and Live Your Life Gear.

The planners at The Lofts at Beacon Falls made certain to build pet-friendliness into their offerings, allowing animals as residents for an additional fee. No one's circling the neighborhood looking for parking, because one spot is allotted to each unit, and additional parking spots are available. Security is of top importance, so there is surveillance inside and outside, as well as keyless entry that can even work from a smartphone. The full list of what's included can be found here on their Amenities page.

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Pricing for 1- & 2-Bedroom Apartments

There are 78 apartments available at The Lofts at Beacon Falls. The community of already-established residents is waiting to grow. Monthly rental prices range from $1,800 to $2,700, with spaces ranging from 800 to 1,400 square feet. Some apartments boast an office, a feature that has attracted people who work from home as well as commuters who want to set up a workspace in their home.

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About the Developer, James M. Bello

James founded James M. Bello and Associates, his family-run business, in 1985. In the decades since, he has employed several hundred subcontractors to design and build homes, renovations, and light commercial projects. A native of Brooklyn, James and his wife have lived in Dutchess County for the last 18 years, and currently reside in Hopewell Junction. Says James: "We noticed a big change in Beacon and we wanted to be part of it. We want to offer value to some of the people who live in Beacon, or are moving here."

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Looking to Move? View an Apartment

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT
Dorothy Bizzoco
Call: (845) 765-8044
Email: Dorothy@loftsatbeaconfalls.com

You can view the apartments any time, just contact Dorothy Bizzoco, who would love to show you around. Who knows, maybe you'll be moved in in time for their Christmas Party this December. Bring the eggnog from your kitchen down to the party!

Publisher's Note: This has article has been produced as Branded Content, and was written in partnership as an advertisement for The Lofts At Beacon Falls. It is through sponsorships like this one that A Little Beacon Blog can continue to bring you coverage of Beacon and beyond. Please see our Editorial Policy for more information. Thank you for supporting businesses who support us!

Come In! Craft Beer Shoppe Opens Next To Key Food

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 Regulars of the check-cashing store tried to enter the brown paper-covered door while the Craft Beer Shoppe was transforming.

Regulars of the check-cashing store tried to enter the brown paper-covered door while the Craft Beer Shoppe was transforming.

What once was a check-cashing store now is a cash-taking store. The Craft Beer Shoppe is now open to Beacon brew fans, from the people who bring you Key Food, specifically Jb Said (Jb with a lower case "b"). In addition to keeping his regular responsibilities with Key Food, Jb has branched out on his own to open this convenience shop for craft beer. The Craft Beer Shoppe is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm, with an extra hour on Friday and Saturday, when they close at 10 pm.

Although the windows were covered in brown paper during the transformation, regular patrons of the check-cashing store did try to check out the new space - despite the large, red, lit-up new sign above the door that announces what is inside: craft beer. Now, with the store opened and the left side of the store fully lined with refrigerators, there can be no mistaking what one will find inside.

While craft beer connoisseurs have their favorite spots to pick up beer around Beacon - including Dia Beverage way down 9D past Stony Kill Farm, or the beer store next to the wine store on Wolcott and South Avenue in the Beacon Dental plaza (aka Loopers Plaza), or even in the gas station in the middle of Main Street (across from Antalek & Moore) that has a surprising selection of craft beer - Beacon hopheads now have an even more convenient location: right next door to Key Food.

Deep craft beer enthusiasts also pick up from local watering holes like Draught, and take home cans from Stock Up.

What's In Stock?

Plenty, according to craft beer enthusiast David Martin, a weekend customer who usually commutes to the city during the week. In order to stock the shelves, Jb orders from at least 10 different distributors. That doesn't make it easy to get wholesale deals on beer prices, but offering a variety of beer is important to him.

"I was surprised to see the prices displayed under each beer," says David. "Usually, you find out the price after you bring it to the counter. I appreciate the displayed pricing. Speaking of which, the prices are on par with everywhere else." 

 David's first purchase from The Craft Beer Shoppe.

David's first purchase from The Craft Beer Shoppe.

During our first visit to the store, we tailed Byrdie from Accuprint, another craft beer enthusiast.

Byrdie was pleased to see the variety, including the selection of ciders. Included in the variety are non-craft beers, old trusties for some, like Rolling Rock, Bud, Bud Light, Stella, Blue Moon, and more.

Let's see what's in stock, shall we?

The Craft Beer Shoppe also has drink mixes, and bottles of non-alcoholic beverages, like Fever-Tree Ginger Ale and Tonic Water. Whisky Sour and Daiquiri mixes are also on hand.

Oops, I Forgot Eggs!

They read your mind! In the last refrigerator case, Jb has stocked the 'fridge with organic Pete and Gerry eggs, organic cheddar cheese, Hudson Valley Fresh whole and chocolate milk (how did he know!?!). Even though Key Food's doors are just a few steps away, you could just grab-n-go here. This is the move of a true small-business person, knowing his customers and delivering.

Hot Tip: Shhh... Don't tell Key Food, but the Pete and Gerry's eggs were $4.99 at The Craft Beer Shoppe, which is a steal compared to the $6.49 they usually are next door at Key Food. Not that you all will be storming this case for the low-priced organic eggs. Besides, you could always storm Homespun just a block down for their $4.99 farm-fresh eggs on your way home (if it's before 5 pm), because their dessert and cheese case is always stocked with dozens of eggs you can buy. Same thing at Beacon Pantry a few blocks in the other direction and open later, and Barb's Butchery has stacks of farm-fresh eggs ready for you to carry home when you pick up bacon or steak. There are of course other sources of farm-fresh eggs around Beacon, so you've got options.

But this isn't an article about eggs, it's about craft beer, and this new supplier in town. Have you checked out The Craft Beer Shoppe? Let us know what you think! 

Come In! Hudson Valley Vinyl Opens - Buying and Collecting Records

If you were a fan of Audioccult, you were bummed when their doors closed back in February. But when their doors closed, another set opened! In less than one month, Hudson Valley Vinyl moved in, and is keeping the crate-digging alive for local vinyl record enthusiasts. Chris Reisman, a longtime vinyl record collector and buyer from the Hudson Valley (he currently lives in Orange County), saw an opportunity to fill the void that would have been left at 267 Main St. in Beacon. 

Chris Reisman's Longtime Passion for Records

Chris always wanted to open a record store and thought Beacon would be the perfect place for it, but he did not want to compete with another record store on Main Street. Once it was announced that Audioccult was closing, Chris acted quickly and was able to secure the location. "When I heard Sean was closing, I did what I had to do to secure the space. It happened very quickly and I was just happy I was able to fill a soon-to-be-open void."

Chris has been selling vinyl records for over 15 years. It began as a hobby, but he parlayed it into a career after getting laid off from what he thought would have been his "dream job" in the music industry. Music has always been a part of his life: At an early age, he began listening mostly to hip-hop and thrash metal. He would seek out vinyl record collections to purchase - even traveling as far as Texas! In his days as a DJ back in the '90s, Chris spent a lot of time crate-digging for hip hop singles before the popularity of vinyl records resurfaced again for the masses.   

Record Stores are Back

What is with the popularity of vinyl records anyway? "I think vinyl is becoming popular again because people are realizing there's something so unfulfilling about listening to mp3s," Chris says. "Holding the jacket and reading it. These are all things digital formats don't allow you to do. I think people want a tangible object as opposed to a file."  

With Record Store Day coming up so quickly this weekend, Hudson Valley Vinyl is not an official participating vendor (this year), but they are a must-stop on your record store travels, as they will have a lot of sales to offer, including $1 records and more marked-down items. On my first visit, I walked out of there with FOURTEEN records, and that's only because I stopped myself. I need a reason to go back, right??

You will find used albums from a mix of genres - including jazz, soul, R&B, rock, rap, reggae, blues, Latin, disco, and psychedelic - in a mix of formats, including LPs, 45s, and even CDs. Not only can you add to your vinyl collection at Hudson Valley Vinyl, but they will consider buying your vinyl record collection too! They look for "record collections that come from radio DJs, club DJs, industry executives, promoters, hippies, and music aficionados. With that being said, we will also still come to see mom and pop's collection." Just book an appointment

 Make sure you say "Hello" to the painting of Jazz musician Joe Chambers displayed over the CDs!

Make sure you say "Hello" to the painting of Jazz musician Joe Chambers displayed over the CDs!

Hudson Valley Vinyl is located at 267 Main St., and is open Thursday through Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) from noon to 8 pm and until 6 pm on Sundays. Keep up with their latest news by following them on Facebook and Instagram. If you'll be driving far to make a special trip, always check with a store about their hours first to see if anything has changed! 

Beacon Trivia: Before Audioccult was in this space, The Beacon Pantry opened its doors for the first time. It was so successful in this nook that it expanded to a space with a patio a few blocks down.

Beacon's Chamber of Commerce Gets a Jump Start and Revitalizes

Beacon's Chamber of Commerce was founded over two decades ago as a Business Association, started by pioneers of the business scene in Beacon. Though some Beacon business sectors are booming these days, "booming" wasn't a word attached to Beacon's Chamber of Commerce. For a long time, it seemed to be standing tenuously on sea legs as it sought footing in a rapidly changing city, with similarly quick developments in the business community. Though it became known for organizing large events such as the Annual Car Show with the Dutchess Cruisers, most people in the city weren't familiar with who ran Beacon's Chamber of Commerce - until now.

Burdened with the usual stresses of running an organization and learning everything on the fly, the Chamber's Board lacked the skill set to easily update their website or maximize new social media tools that can quickly inform people - a reality of operating small businesses when regular people who are great in one field suddenly have to master many components of other fields, including marketing, system implementation, and technical skills to run a website. I've seen this firsthand in my own business, Tin Shingle, a training platform built for business owners to educate them on the best ways to use social media, send newsletters, and get press.

New Website For Beacon's Chamber of Commerce

This year, the Chamber undertook a completely new website design build. For the first time, the site includes a highly anticipated Member Business Directory, event listings, schedule of ribbon cuttings, the ability to join online, as well as a contact form to let the Chamber know if you want to speak at an event or host a meeting. Speaking of meetings, monthly Member Meetings are now held on the first Monday of the month, with BASH's available to the public. March's Member Meeting is happening at Drink More Good. Previous meetings during this new era have been at A Little Beacon Space (our space!) and the Elks Club. At the gatherings, Board Members discuss ways to develop business skills, including recently committing to learn social media practices during the meetings.

New and Adapted Businesses In Beacon

The business pioneers - among them, restaurants, renovation artisans, stationery stores, candlemaking shops and service businesses of many kinds - didn't come in simply a single wave. The types of business setting up shop in Beacon continue to change and evolve with the needs of the community. Many restaurants, for instance, have come and gone. What is now The Pandorica, for instance, completely flipped who it catered to in order to stay in business. Originally opening as a tea room with a varied menu that included latkes and applesauce (yum), diners started dwindling. One night, owner Shirley Holt was binge-watching Dr. Who, and had an epiphany. She may have wanted to run a tea room, but Beacon wasn't showing an interest. "Just because I wanted to run a tea room, didn't mean that people wanted to come." The idea to have a themed restaurant hit her, and the next day she rebranded the entire restaurant as an homage to Dr. Who.

If you've been following the news since the change, you know what a hit that choice has been. She has earned praise from Perez Hilton, The Nerdist, BBC America, Grub Street, and more. One could even credit her choice with drawing people to Beacon specifically to dine at The Pandorica. A recent visitor included an 11-year-old boy from Florida who is in remission from Burkitt lymphoma B-cell leukemia. He made a wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation: to experience scenes from Dr. Who - specifically at The Pandorica.

Same Big Visions

Beacon's Chamber of Commerce is a volunteer organization comprising business owners who have big visions, as well as the desire to bring people together. For years, they'd hold member meetings and the same handful of people would come, until eventually petering out. Several notable Beaconites, including Ray Rabenda (owner of Sukhothai Restaurant) and Miss Vickie, have been on the Chamber's Board. Current Board member Carl Oken, who is currently the District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of the Mid Hudson Elks Club in Beacon is in his second year as Vice President of the Beacon Chamber. He credits Clara Lou Gould, former mayor of Beacon, for why he joined the board and continues on. "Mayor Gould inspired me to help Beacon to continue to grow. This revitalization started with Clara Lou's vision," says Carl.

Chamber President Rick Brownell, owner of Freedom Ford, shares the sentiment: "It has been an honor to serve the Beacon business community at my capacity. Being President has been so rewarding. I have been able to meet so many of Beacon's business owners and have made a lot of new friends. Beacon is on quite a ride now - potential business owners should consider Beacon for their storefront. The Beacon Chamber will be right there to support their efforts."

New Board Members

During the first meeting of 2017, two new board members were elected to serve. Each of them runs a new business in Beacon. Michele Williams, owner of Style Storehouse and a Poughkeepsie resident, came forward to join the Board and had this to say: "I look forward to meeting more business owners, and representing the growing number of businesses on Beacon's East End of town." 

Kate Rabe is an expert in the field of human relations and business growth, consulting with mid-sized businesses for their HR needs. She says, "As a lifelong Beacon resident, I have always had an interest in our city. I feel that we are very lucky to have a Beacon Chamber and that there are so many opportunities for development and growth within the community. I feel fortunate that I am able to sit on the Board of Directors and have a part in everything to come. There really are such great ideas that I cannot wait to see materialize and help continue to grow the Beacon community."

Upcoming Events

In addition to the Annual Car Show that has become a defining October event in Beacon, the Chamber of Commerce has agreed to work with the city to host the Cupcake Festival on May 6, 2017. Normally held in Fishkill, this year the festival will take over Main Street from the dummy light to Route 52/Fishkill Ave./Teller Ave. The festival's presence on the East End is part of a concerted effort to bring more activity to that end of town, which has a vibrant business scene as you pass the Yankee Clipper diner. The Cupcake Festival is currently seeking vendors, and is offering a discount to Beacon-based businesses. Contact sam@pamal.com for details.

Editorial Note: A Little Beacon Blog's sister company, InHouse Design Media, agreed to redesign the Chamber's website pro-bono, and train the Board in new promotional practices. Working with them has been a pleasure and we wish them and our fellow Beacon businesses great success!

Matteawan Gallery Brings In Artists For Interactive Installation Residency Programs

Every January for the past four years, Matteawan Gallery owner Karlyn Benson has turned her gallery space over to an artist for a guest Winter Residency Program. According to Karlyn, "The goal of the Winter Residency is to give artists the space to create a new body of work or to continue working on an ongoing project in a new environment. The Residency focuses on work that has a social, performative, or participatory component."

To kick off 2017, Beacon-based Zachary Skinner presents his Geo-Co-Lab, a collaborative installation that explores whether art can spark effective social and ecological change. And he's not alone. As with past Residency projects at Matteawan Gallery, the public is invited to come in off the street, to collaborate and participate in making the art.

 Photo Credit: Matteawan Gallery

Photo Credit: Matteawan Gallery

Handmade chalkboards hang on the gallery walls, where people are invited to come in and write on them about a theme that explores the concept of whether art can spark effective social and ecological change. The result, as Skinner sees it, is a constantly multiplying collection of thoughts in a collective mind.

 A tent structure (Wisdom Tent) is designed to be a contemplative and reflective space as well as a nomadic shelter. Photo Credit: Matteawan Gallery

A tent structure (Wisdom Tent) is designed to be a contemplative and reflective space as well as a nomadic shelter.
Photo Credit: Matteawan Gallery

In addition to an artist talk at the end of the Residency, two free art workshops covering Acrylic Transfer and Handmade Egg Tempura Painting were built into the project. The trade for students was to give their finished work to Skinner, to be included in his exhibit.  

 Beacon resident Greg Slick contributes to the installation. Photo Credit: Matteawan Gallery

Beacon resident Greg Slick contributes to the installation.
Photo Credit: Matteawan Gallery

 Children participating in past installations. Photo Credit: Zachary Skinner

Children participating in past installations.
Photo Credit: Zachary Skinner

Skinner works in the gallery most days of the week, with regular hours on Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 pm. There will be a closing reception on Sunday, January 22, with a talk by the artist at 3 pm. Past artist residencies in this program include Jean-Marc Superville Sovak’s I Draw & You Talk in 2016, Mollie McKinley’s Cabin Fever in 2015, and Angelika Rhinnhofer’s a priori in 2014.

About Matteawan Gallery

Matteawan Gallery opened in March 2013 at 464 Main Street in Beacon, NY, and moved to a larger space at 436 Main Street in September 2015. The gallery specializes in contemporary art by mid-career and emerging artists, often with a focus on process and materials.

Gallery Director Karlyn Benson has over 20 years of experience working in museums and galleries. For six years she worked in the Registrar Department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Previously, she was the gallery manager at Candace Perich Gallery, a contemporary photography gallery in Katonah, NY. Karlyn received an MA in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin and a BA in Art History from SUNY Purchase. She recently curated the exhibition Chemistry at Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY. 

Renovated Beacon Hotel Restaurant Opens and Shines New Light From Main Street’s East End

The wind whistled through the newly installed windows on the third floor of The Beacon Hotel last Wednesday afternoon under clouds threatening snow. Down on the first floor, newly hired staff buzzed busily around The Beacon Hotel Restaurant, hustling to get ready for their first dinner service, set to start Friday evening at 5 pm. It will be the first time the hotel has been renovated and open to the public in decades. 

This massive project is another feather in the cap of Beacon development visionaries like the Sauers, the McAlpines, and so many others. Business owners in this city have a long tradition of renting once-shoddy storefronts and building them out: Beacon Bread Company (remodeled a dilapidated diner), Beacon Dental (outfitted offices in questionable neighborhood), Giannetta Salon & Spa, and so many more. They breathe fresh air into the city by transforming once-forgotten buildings and giving them new life for the people of the Hudson Valley - and a longer life for the history books.

 The Hotel in 1877, when owned by Warren S. Dibble. Photo Credit:  The Beacon Historical Society

The Hotel in 1877, when owned by Warren S. Dibble.
Photo Credit: The Beacon Historical Society

Most people around town know this hotel as the location of SRO (single-room occupancy) apartments on the East End of Main Street, contributing to a kind of "no-man's land" feeling of limited business activity in the area. That has gradually decreased as businesses and real estate pioneers have moved in and renovated buildings throughout Beacon.  

Originally built in the 1870s, this hotel is no stranger to entrepreneurial visionaries. Warren S. Dibble bought the property in 1877, creating 75 rooms; amenities included a horse stable. Across the street he built a roller rink, which he turned into The Dibble Opera House, as illustrated in the book Historic Beacon. "Some of the most famous actors of the nineteenth century entertained Matteawan's elite and Mr. Dibble's hotel guests," according to Celebrating Our Centennial, Beacon at 100, the historical reference book published by the Beacon Historical Society. In fact, rumor has it that there is a secret passageway under Main Street connecting the hotel to the theater, so that actors could quickly get from one place to the other. The Beacon Theatre that stands today is currently being renovated into luxury apartments. The entertainment scene has changed considerably since the heyday of the theater and Mount Beacon's Incline Railway. (The railway carried 3.5 million people to the top of Mount Beacon during its years of operation, according to Celebrating Our Centennial.)

Local Entrepreneurs Bring Back The Beacon Hotel and Restaurant

Enter the new owners: Alla Kormilitsyna, a renovator of townhouses in New York City, and Greg and Evey Trautman, veteran renovators of restaurants around the corner from their previous home in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn (Olmsted and Plan B). They, with another partner, purchased the hotel from the estate of Ritchie Rogers after he passed in 2014. For Greg and Evey, who have since moved to Beacon, having a comfortable restaurant around the corner is important: "We loved having a local restaurant near where we lived and contributing to the community." After moving to Beacon, they got the itch to dive into restaurant renovation again. "We loved the history of Beacon and the fact that the hotel was the oldest running hotel in Beacon, dating back to the Dibble House. With Alla's construction knowledge and get-it-done spirit, we knew we [would be] able to reinvent the space to bring back its glory."

CO-OWNER EVEY TRAUTMAN SITS IN THE NEWLY LIT BOOTH OF THE BEACON HOTEL RESTAURANT, ONE OF MANY PROJECTS HEADED FOR A SWIFT FINISH DAYS BEFORE THE RESTAURANT'S GRAND OPENING.
PHOTO CREDITS: KATIE HELLMUTH MARTIN

The Food -  Get To The Food Part!

The kitchen team at The Beacon Hotel Restaurant, preparing for the weekend's opening.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Right - so, as you know, eating in Beacon is getting more delicious by the month. (We track it here in ALBB's Restaurant Guide). Those who were missing the creative culinary creations of Matt Hutchins, former co-owner and original executive chef of The Hop, can order from his carefully crafted menu once again. His dishes delighted critics from the neighborhood to The New York Times, while his commitment to feeding the cravings of community strengthened his relationship with the people of Beacon: "I love to play with food, but more importantly I love how it can bring people together," he says. 

Executive Chef Matt Hutchins is back in the kitchen in Beacon, creating dishes you'll remember forever.
Photo Credit: Evey Trautman

Matt studied in Berkeley, CA, "where 'California-Mediterranean' is a thing," he says, and attended the Culinary Institute of America. He calls his culinary style partially “Hudson Valley-Mediterranean.” Having grown up in North Florida, Matt says those roots deeply influence him as well. In Florida, he says,  "many cultures come into play, from Mexican to Caribbean, Deep South to Cajun. I have been passionate about locality in food sourcing, and nose-to-tail cooking, for I strive to utilize every part of an animal I can to honor that animal’s life (and death)."

From the menu, you can expect to see dishes that will change with the seasons. This season, look for Pork Belly and Scallops, Beet Tartare, and Cuttlefish and Clams. For your main dish, look for the Grilled Duck Breast, Beef Tenderloin, Chestnut Lasagne, among others. And save room, of course, for the Peanut Butter Pie and New York Apple Beignets. 

The Decor - What Will It Look Like?

Beautiful. Industrial. Like you'll want to settle in and stay all night. The team was inspired by Beacon's history and mandated that the atmosphere reflect it. They tapped local architect Aryeh Siegel, well-known for creating the uplifting look of Main Street Beacon through his work on several buildings including The Roundhouse, the Beacon Lofts, pieces of the galleries in Dia: Beacon, and other residential and business projects. 

As for the interior direction, the team approached Clodagh Design, a design firm based in New York City, yet calls Beacon home. "When owners Alla and Greg selected our studio to capture the spirit of Beacon in their Beacon Hotel Bar and Restaurant, we jumped on the opportunity with huge enthusiasm," Clodagh says. "My love affair with Beacon started over 14 years ago after purchasing property in Beacon in 2003 with my husband Daniel Aubry, Beacon artist and realtor. The wonderfully tight community and necklace of fabulous restaurants and music venues makes it a great place for a quiet night dining or out on the town, with each establishment offering different experiences."

In keeping with the instinct to tie the look to Beacon's past and manufacturing history, Clodagh designed using a reclaimed and industrial theme. The tables were crafted by After the Barn, using joists found in the original hotel, and several decorative objects were sourced from the Beacon Flea and local antiques shops. Effort was made to join the space in the front - the storefront windows are bi-fold and will be open in the spring and summer months - with the garage door in the back of the restaurant, to encourage a breeze all the way through the restaurant. Add to that a double fireplace between the back patio and inside party room, to supply cozy ambiance inside and out.

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF THE RESTAURANT AS EVERYONE PREPARED DAYS BEFORE THE OPENING.
PHOTO CREDITS: ALL BY KATIE HELLMUTH MARTIN, EXCEPT THE LOWER RIGHT WITH DINERS (PHOTO CREDIT: KIMBERLY COCCAGNIA)

Behind the Scenes of a Restaurant and Hotel Renovation and Build

This scene could be one from a musical about the makings of a restaurant, but it is co-owner Alla wiping shelves in preparation for a walk-through by people who were getting sneak peeks of the restaurant before it opened.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

If you're a longtime reader of A Little Beacon Blog, you know that we live for behind-the-scene stories. We want to see the prep work and learn how people got to be doing what they are doing. Co-owner Alla met with me days before the opening to answer a few questions for this article. "Come!" she said. "Let's meet in the bathroom. It's quiet." Every single aspect of this restaurant is brand-new, so it's not like a management office is ready yet, and there were people literally in every corner - bartenders arranging bottles of wine and spirits, electricians in closets I didn't even notice until I saw their flashlights moving, her partner Greg outside ripping off the white plastic coating from the new front doors, and Matt and the kitchen staff breaking down large boxes once they were unpacked.

The space for the hotel was completely gutted to become what visitors see today. The upstairs hotel rooms, accessible only by stairs winding through the towers (the ultimate walk-up!), remain under construction. Phase 1 is slated to open with 12 rooms, one of which, "Hikers Haven," will offer bunk beds and is aimed at being a comfortable resting spot for locals and day-trippers who want an inspiring night on the town. 

ROOM WITH VIEWS.
LEFT: THE START TO THE TOTAL RENOVATION OF WHAT WILL SOON BE A HOTEL ROOM OVERLOOKING MAIN STREET.
RIGHT: VIEW OF MOUNT BEACON AND THE BEACON THEATRE FROM MAIN STREET-FACING ROOMS IN THE HOTEL'S TOWERS.
PHOTO CREDIT: KATIE HELLMUTH MARTIN

Says Alla, a master renovator of townhouses: "The facade was restored to the original state, and extreme measures were taken to structurally reinforce the building. We did create an entirely new facade of the first-floor restaurant, with the bi-fold windows in the front that will be open during the spring and summer."

When asked about the unexpected challenges of restoring this building, Alla mentioned several: "Site-work to take care of the storm water, running electrical and gas lines. The sprinkler and fire alarm system were very difficult. The Ansul system, which carries the smoke from the stovetop out of the kitchen, was very difficult to run out of the kitchen to the rooftop. You can see the Ansul running up the back brick wall of the patio."

If you've driven past any of these renovation projects (another hotel and spa is currently under construction on the West End of town, near the clothing boutique Nella's Bellas), you will see that they involve a lot of people, and if everything is going smoothly, the site always has something going on. We asked Alla what it's like having a renovation project as your full-time job: "It is all-consuming and takes over your life. Given the complexity of the project, you are on-call 24/7. There is constant managing of construction workers, buying supplies, and creating your timeline to open. Essentially, this is three projects in one: the construction of the hotel rooms, the restaurant, and the creation of the business."

The restaurant will be open for dinner only on most days (check their website for updates), and at some point soon will include a Sunday brunch. We wish everyone involved the best moving forward, and we look forward to cozying into one of the tables to order culinary happiness.

www.tbhbeacon.com

Libby from Beacon Barkery Steps Out, Donald Steps In, and Barkery Moves Over

When the famed Beacon Barkery moved next door to its original location at the corner of Main Street and Willow Street, several people just thought it closed, and didn't see its newly decorated storefront window next door. What even more folks didn't know was that the original owners, Libby Faison and Nanci Pate, hadn't been in the Barkery since before the move, as they sold it to Donald McNeal, the father of one of their new employees, Jon McNeal.

Ten years ago, Libby and Nanci opened the Beacon Barkery to give back to the dog and cat populations in Beacon. Through their work within the community, they brought thousands of people and pets to Beacon through such annual events such as the Beacon Barks Parade, which attracted people from all over the state of New York, and was the unofficial kickoff to Spring during the first week of April. The Beacon Barkery became a known destination as a specialty pet boutique for healthy food options, quality clothing, treats, and the owners' experienced advice. For instance, it is to Libby's credit that I eliminated chicken from my dog's diet, as she had developed an allergy to it, causing her to itch and bite her skin, and eventually rip her hair out. Test after test revealed nothing, until one day, Libby suggested cutting out grain and chicken. It was the chicken that did it. My dog was cured and calm. No antihistamines necessary after that.

As of this spring, the Barkery has a new owner. Several business owners in Beacon already know him from his regular rounds, during his full-time job as route manager for a pest control company; Libby knew him as a customer. The Barkery isn't the first business Donald has owned, but he walked into it with similar passion for pets, their communities, and his own family's involvement in running the store.

The Background to the Beacon Barkery

When Libby and Nanci opened the Barkery, they had full-time jobs. They kept those up during all of the years they ran the Barkery, and still maintain to this day. Libby is a school administrator (now mostly retired, but working in the Wappingers School District), and Nanci is an occupational therapist who also works in schools. Two of their children worked in the store. One of them, Becca, even helped manage the store. Would the Barkery have paid the bills if they'd wanted to leave their full-time jobs? "No," says Libby. "There were three kids here and a mortgage. We really opened the Barkery not to make our first million, but to give back to the community on behalf of dogs and cats. We wanted to help the dog and cat population."

So what was the catalyst to selling? There wasn't one! "We were downsizing so that we could start doing some retirement planning." When I texted Libby questions for this story, she responded from Italy, so I asked her if traveling was part of those retirement plans. "Yes, like going to Italy. Honestly, when you own a store, it's really hard to plan a two-week vacation abroad." Jon, one of their recent employees who was quite enthusiastic about The Beacon Barkery, had told his father, Donald, that it was for sale. Jon and Donald were customers on behalf of their pug family, so the pull to own was strong.

The Puppia Harnesses That First Attracted Donald to the Beacon Barkery.

New Guys In Town

Though Donald and Jon live in and commute from Hopewell Junction, and are new to Main Street as shop owners, they've been around Beacon's Main Street for a long time. Through his day job, Donald counts several Main Street businesses, including Zora Dora's and Kitchen Sink, as his customers in the pest control business. He's also not new to entrepreneurship, having owned several businesses in the past, including his own pest control business, a barber shop, and even a fire extinguisher company. "I’m an entrepreneur at heart," he says.

It was the Puppia harnesses (pictured above) that first brought Donald into the Barkery. The McNeals are a pug family, owning three of them: Angel, 9 years old, Casper, 1 year old, and Eddie, 6 months old. Says Donald: "We always shopped here, and we first came for the harnesses. We went to a pug meet and I was the only one without a harness. When I went shopping for one, nobody had them, except the Barkery. We always liked the store. After Jon told my wife and I that it was for sale, my wife kept at me, 'When we going to buy the Barkery?'"

 The new Primal refrigerator for a larger raw food selection.

The new Primal refrigerator for a larger raw food selection.

The New Beacon Barkery

Much is the same in the store, except that it's one door down, thanks to a rent increase that kicked in shortly after the McNeals moved in. Once the new ownership was transferred into place, the landlord increased the rent, so the McNeals packed it up and moved next door. They quickly painted the new space, set up new lighting, got new decals on the windows, and more. Says Jon: "People are finding us. The Car Show helped us. More customers who aren’t local know about us now, and for the locals, they are passing us in the new store, and they see that we are open."

New product is being carried also, such as Primal Raw Dog and Cat Food, freeze-dried treats, and goats milk. The new Primal refrigerator just arrived, and it will be fully stocked this week. For my picky cat with a chronic ear problem, I tried the raw goats milk at Donald's suggestion. “It's the way nature meant to feed our pets.” I have to say, never having ventured into the raw world myself, my picky cat who drinks no water, drank the milk. New clothing is arriving in the store, and the Beacon Barkery maintains it is the largest carrier of the Puppia and Easy Dog harness lines in the area.

 Tasty dog and cat snacks.

Tasty dog and cat snacks.

Beacon Barkery To Continue Community Work

As active participants in the pug community, Donald and Jon know the value of socializing among pets, and giving back. "We have had one dog adoption already, and we plan on doing cat adoptions, and more adoptions in general. We would love to work with the new vet." They aim to continue with the Beacon Barks Parade.

 Dog treat cookies, decorated for the season, are in the Beacon Barkery.

Dog treat cookies, decorated for the season, are in the Beacon Barkery.

What's Next for Libby and Nanci?

Libby and Nanci are not done with their animal work, nor with the Beacon Barks Parade. Says Libby: "We are going to be working with the Beacon Barkery for the Beacon Barks Parade, and will contact the Dutchess County SPCA in 2017. We will be volunteers!"

The Beacon Barks Parade isn't the only thing they are staying connected to. "We miss being in Beacon. We live in Wappingers, and we were down in Beacon every day. Now we are just customers of the Beacon Barkery!"

Advice on Running a Local Store

Libby and Nanci started the Beacon Barkery to improve a community, and it's the community that is the most important for them for running a local business. "It's very important to be part of what's going on, and being active. It also makes it much more fun, when you know your customers and the community. You help each other."

Shop and restaurant owners can often get stuck inside of their stores. Is it important to step outside? "You need to step outside of your shop and be involved. There were times that we had adoptions, and put our tent up out front, and did special kinds of celebrations. Like our Food Fest. The community needs to be able to find you. Beacon's Main Street is a very long Main Street. It's not all that easy for people on the East end to know what's going on the West end."

Cheers, Libby and Nanci, to your new working-retirement! Soon after the sale, Libby and Nanci booked themselves a trip to Italy to enjoy a good two-week vacation, something small business owners rarely experience.

Cheers to Donald and Jon, to your exciting new adventure as owners of the Beacon Barkery and helping so many dogs and cats feel good all over, even in quality fashion!

 Libby (left) and Nanci (right) on their first two-week vacation after selling The Beacon Barkery.

Libby (left) and Nanci (right) on their first two-week vacation after selling The Beacon Barkery.

Top Nabisco Pressman Starts Over at Age 54 To Open Salon - Mr. Bell's Story

Alvin Bell moved to Beacon from Virginia when jobs were scarce in the South, and booming in Beacon. Twenty-seven years later, Beacon hemorrhaged jobs and Mr. Bell quickly experienced again what he had fled in the first place. Now with deeper roots in the Hudson Valley, Mr. Bell stayed and did not move to pursue healthy job markets in other areas. Instead, he created his own. And he's still here, 25 years later in a barber shop. Many of you have sat in his red leather swivel hair chair, but some of you may not yet have walked in for a cut, or even peeked your head in to look inside of Main Street Beauty Salon. Well you can here, and after our interview with Mr. Bell for this edition of our "Come In!" series, Mr. Bell extends his walk-in invitation to you. Even if it's to play checkers with him. But watch out, he's the "Checker Champ!"

Barbershop owner Alvin Bell moved to Beacon from Virginia decades ago "when jobs were scarce in the South," according to the Beacon Historical Society's "Heroes of Main Street" book of profiles of longtime business owners in Beacon. At the time, Beacon was flourishing as a factory town. When Mr. Bell moved here, he took a job of pressman at the Nabisco Company right away, working in the building that is now Dia: Beacon. Rising up to become Top Pressman, Mr. Bell was "responsible for everything that came off the press," he says, which meant that he spent a lot of time under the large ceilings and north-facing skylights to inspect the color and design of everything printed.

That is, until Beacon went through a change of a different kind, and the factories began to empty out, including Nabisco. After 27 years, his position was downsized. Mr. Bell was left without a job at age 54, too young to start drawing from Social Security. That's when the lightening bolt of entrepreneurship hit him, and his life changed forever. Mr. Bell, a spiritual man, credits Proverbs 3:5-6 for his guidance: "He will direct your path." (Note: This is Mr. Bell's quote of the wording.)

"Out of nowhere, God gave me a vision," he recalls. Mr. Bell's wife, Shirley Bell, was "doing hair" as he calls it, and Mr. Bell always had dreams of opening a salon. He got a license, and moved forward even through his family "looked at me like I was a little crazy." However, his wife Shirley was excited, and he opened the shop as Main Street Unisex Salon, which he changed to Barber and Unisex Shop years later just to stir things up. It is currently called Main Street Beauty Salon.

At first, mothers brought in their kids, and their client base built up. The Bells dove into community work by giving away clothes and food. A spiritual man, Mr. Bell says "The spirits showed me how to run the business." Call it intuition or a good business sense, the path that Mr. Bell followed was clear for him from days after he got laid off, continuing today, and hopefully for many tomorrows.

When asked what he credits his success to, Mr. Bell looked straight ahead and out his storefront window, past the barber chairs and magazines and to Main Street and replied: "Be loyal to your customers. And be polite."

Though not a boastful man, Mr. Bell has kept his years of press coverage and special involvements in a cardboard box in the back of the shop, or has hung pictures on the wall. Insider info for you: There is one bit of printed press on the wall that identifies Mr. Bell as "Albert Bell." Believe us when we tell you his name is Alvin. But it's framed, and he blows it off with the brush of his hand, appreciating the acknowledgment.

A singer and performer in his heart, Mr. Bell relives the days of performing numerous times with Pete Seeger and other band members. Mr. Bell held a solo performance at the Howland Cultural Center in 2009, performing 10 songs by himself, a memory he is quite proud of and can re-live for probably the whole day with you if you stayed to get a perm.

A blue banner hangs above the barber shop on Main Street next to BJ's, congratulating Mr. Bell for 25 years in business. When the banner went up, his building's landlord, Janelle Piccone Styles, wrote into A Little Beacon Blog to make sure we knew about him, as she was responsible for making and hanging the sign. When asked what she thought was the reason for his success, she replied: "I would say Mr. Bell's attitude! He is always smiling, always has a kind word. It's contagious."

As for Mr. Bell's parting words and advice for staying in business: "Show love."

Sit if you dare, in Mr. Mac's chair at this checker board, and take on the Checker Champ, Mr. Bell. Tell us when you do - we'd love to watch and learn from both sides!