The historic City of Peekskill is known for its proximity to New York City, spectacular Hudson River views and a vibrant art district. Now, it’s also known as an up-and-coming destination for foodies. The town’s many recently opened restaurants have made Peekskill the place to go for those seeking sushi, tacos, simple seafood or a locally sourced burger, as well as American beer, bourbon, margaritas or craft cocktails. One such restaurant, the Hudson Room, was just voted as one of Top 100 restaurants in the country by Open Table.
A big reason for this restaurant boom is Louie Lanza, a driving force behind the city’s revitalization and owner of seven new restaurants in Peekskill. Lanza says, “We joke about Peekskill becoming the seventh borough, maybe the next Brooklyn. We are trying to keep it a cool, unique city.” A 50-minute train ride from the NYC, Peekskill is often overshadowed by Cold Spring and West Point as an easy day trip, but Lanza hopes to change that. His goal is to make Peekskill a dining destination, filled with waterfront restaurants, entertainment venues and lots of local fare. “We are the start of the Hudson Valley, in my opinion, and we want to be its hub. People can start here and then head to Cold Spring,” Lanza says.
Lanza was a fixture in the Manhattan restaurant scene, owning 12 restaurants including Josie East and West, Josephina, Better Burger and Citrus Bar & Grill. Lanza explains that he “had been in the area for eight years through the Hot Rod Hotel in Buchanan and Lanza Farms in Garrison. Three years ago he sold his Manhattan apartment and bought seven buildings in Peekskill. Then, as he says, “I thought: ‘I have to get back into the restaurant business.’” He’s since opened the Hudson Room and Taco Dive Bar, with two new ventures — Buns-and-Bourbon and Eagle Saloon — opening soon. Lanza says, “Buns-and-Bourbon is good junk food with a twist, serving fare like Kobe beef hotdogs and Lanza beef burgers.” Opening in June, this waterfront spot has outdoor seating and features char-grilled, sustainable burgers, dogs, Po’ Boys and more, plus 99 bottles of Kentucky, New York and American brown spirits, in a barn-industrial-chic decor. The venue will offer Westchester’s only private mezzanine “bourbon cage” dining, as well as a music stage.
Lanza says the Eagle Saloon is “a take on the old saloon and decorated with incredible photos of eagles to reference its waterfront location.” Coming in the fall of 2016, the Eagle Saloon will feature regional tavern cuisine, all-American spirits and beer, the longest bar in Westchester and include a private event space and singer-songwriter stage.
Later this year, Lanza and a group of local business owners will open Factoria at Charles Point. This 14,000-square-foot, elevated space will feature the largest outdoor waterfront dining area on the river, an event space and adjacent arcade, complete with shuffleboard. Lanza describes the restaurant there, Trattoria Coastal, as “a coastal beach bar serving simple seafood, great sides and a raw bar.”
Lanza’s vision extends beyond these restaurants: He wants to “connect the marina and the waterfront to keep the downtown vibrant. We are finalizing the lease at the Peekskill train station for Taste of New York marketing there.”
Lanza attributes the Peekskill revitalization to the combined efforts of business owners, politicians and civic leaders. “It’s everyone working together. I was here at the right time to bring this expansion to the next level, but we all work together. It takes the vision of the business owners, and everyone, including the mayor, has been supportive.”
What’s good for business is good for the community. Lanza continues, “Not only are we making Peekskill a cool destination, but we are also training employees, giving them a chance and providing jobs.”