Twyla was cutting my hair in Seneca Falls last week when she mentioned that a new business opened a few doors down from her Bridge Street shop — specifically, in the former Antonina’s Restaurant spot.
I was a regular at Antonina’s on Wednesdays when they served freshly cooked, hot roast beef sandwiches ... maybe the best I’ve ever had.
Now occupying the space at the corner of Bridge and West Bayard streets is Sackett’s Table, a restaurant, market, and butcher shop that also sells craft beverages and local goods.
Normally, stories about new businesses are not a part of the “Bigger Picture” wheelhouse, unless there is something that piques my curiosity. That was the case here.
The butcher shop opened Dec. 18. The restaurant and bar area began welcoming customers on New Year’s Eve.
The food service and bar industries have taken a major beating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. restaurant industry employs over 15.5 million people. That’s about 7% of all employment in the country. The number of business closures in the industry continues to rise, as many owners are unable to survive with the rigid restrictions in place.
So the fact that Brent and Maria Maynard chose to open now, especially since they bought the building four years ago, led me to this week’s column. Well aware of the coronavirus, they hoped they could tread water during the pandemic and be stronger for it when it subsides.
Though the couple has plenty of experience working in the restaurant business from decades ago, Sackett’s Table is the final piece of a business puzzle they now have in place.
The other pieces include Finger Lakes Farms, which was established in 2007. It distributes natural, local and sustainable food to over 400 clients. Products there come from the Maynards’ own large certified organic farm, Sucker Brook Farms, and the Ithaca Milk company (milk, cheese and yogurt), which is pictured in the top inset photo. Others fall under the category of being part of their brand: Grassland Farms Beef, Oink & Gobble (pigs and turkeys), and Meadow Creek Free Range Eggs.
The couple moved here from Aurora seven years ago. After they bought the building, they took their time, hoping for some grant money as well as finding a chef that met their standards. They found the latter in Patrick Higgins, 43, who has been involved with food preparation since he was 13, and is fluent in the local food scene. The Maynards knew Higgins when he was the executive chef at the Inns of Aurora. While there he won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award in 2016 for his cooking.
Brent, a Cornell University graduate, expects Sackett’s Table will become a place where superb local fare is served, and the butcher shop will offer a wide variety of products. They have found the residents in the area to be knowledgeable and discerning about the meat they eat.
What is unusual about this place: If a customer is dining in, he or she can look at the butcher’s case (bottom inset photo), select what they want, and the staff will cook it if other items on the menu are not to the customer’s liking.
The business’ name, Sackett’s Table, is a nod to Gary V. Sackett, the man many feel is the most important person in the development of Seneca Falls on the south side of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Sackett, an attorney, moved to Seneca Falls in 1814. In 1828-29 he built what is known as the “Sackett block” of six brick, two-story buildings at the intersection of West Bayard and Bridge streets. These buildings were the center of mercantile trade in the village.
The Maynards hope to help revitalize that section of town, much like Sackett did 191 years ago.