“We thought the baby boomers would come, but it turned out to be the Brooklynites.” The fabulously named Peekamoose restaurant – as enjoyable to say as to visit – was one of the first trails to be blazed in the new-look Catskills. Owner, Marybeth Mills, saw potential in this picturesque, mountainous corner of Upstate New York a decade ago and set up shop, with a raggle-taggle set of rooms full of sharp-toothed and antlered taxidermy, scavenged furniture, and a chunk of tree that was plucked from the East River and turned into a chandelier studded with filament bulbs. Peekamoose was a style salvo for a new generation in the Catskills. “We expected an older crowd to come here, out of a sense of nostalgia for what the area used to be,” says Marybeth. “But instead we had the Brooklyn crowd come and buy second homes.”
This rural area, renowned for its rivers, bears and roadside curiosities (“See the world’s largest kaleidoscope!”) is in the throes of a widespread makeover. It’s been happening in the area around the Hudson for a while, but now it’s spreading to the less populated west of the region. You can see its grassroots in the sous vide techniques and the artisanal Hoptical Illusion ale at Peekamoose, and its green shoots are visible in the growing obsession with the small batch, the locally sourced, the new businesses and the industrial faux-naïf typography that brand them all.
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