the weekend Chatham Brewing’s owner spends the perfect day in the perfect spot.
By Tom Crowell
6:45 A.M. Walking the dogs
When you live with three dogs, there’s no sleeping in on the weekends. We leash them up and make the short drive to Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland Pond (above). This publicly accessible recreation area is named for the Ooms family, one of the prominent farm families in town who work thousands of acres of corn and hayfields that give Chatham its status as an agricultural community. Managed by the Columbia Land Conservancy, the 180-acre site offers a one-and-a-half-mile trail with 360-degree views of the Berkshires, Catskills and Taconics.
7:50 A.M. Breakfast
With the dogs exercised, it’s time to head to town. On arrival, I walk a couple doors down for some breakfast. Sharing an entry way with the eclectic American Pie home goods store, Fiesta Café is a relatively new and welcome addition to Chatham’s Main Street making “real food, not fast food.” It’s always a toss-up whether to get the huevos rancheros or a breakfast burrito, as both come with the house made hot sauce. Food in hand, I head to Chatham Brewing to restock the coolers with cans and make sure the kegs are tapped and ready for the families who will fill our patio with their kids and dogs, as well as our loyal mug clubbers who will take their appointed seats at the bar discussing cooking, gardening and sports, while artfully avoiding politics.
11:10 A.M. shopping
My wife pops in, having just picked up a necklace she’d had restrung at R.H. VanAlstyne Fine Jewelry. I’m somewhat relieved to see she wasn’t tempted by any sparkling rings or vintage pieces from the carefully curated selection that shine in the glass display cases across the street. We head off together to The Chatham Berry Farm to purchase starters for the vegetable garden. While there, we can’t resist grabbing a few essentials for the pantry from their well-stocked farm store.
12:20 P.M. LUNCH
Time to grab a gourmet grilled cheese from Bimi’s Cheese Shop. We ask Ellen, the proprietor, when the Canteen, their much anticipated bistro, will open next door. Soon, we’re promised! On our way back to our car we pass The Chatham Bookstore, Browns shoe store, Chatham Wine and Liquor, Joane Cornell Fine Jewelry; Boxwood Linen; and pookstyle. While we don’t have time to stop in these or the other independent stores in town, we’re glad to see the village is bustling!
2 P.M. arts
We digest our lunch taking in a matinee dance performance at PS21. It’s amazing that we can see world-class artists perform on this modern stage in an old apple orchard just a mile out of town. But that’s Chatham for you—a sometimes seemingly contradictory blend of rural traditions and cultural nuance.
4:30 P.M. Cocktails
Show’s over and it’s time to refresh ourselves with an expertly fashioned cocktail at The People’s Pub. Angus pours a perfect Negroni. Now back across the street to check in with the second shift at Chatham Brewery, before grabbing an early dinner at the Blue Plate.
5:50 P.M. dinner
You’ll definitely need a reservation at the Blue Plate if you’re in town for the Film Columbia festival in the fall, but in the springtime, we have our choice of front row seats to Chatham’s comings and goings on the glassed-in porch. We decide to head home, rather than walk over to the Crandell Theatre to take in the latest talked about independent release. We’ll save that for another night—it’s been a long day.
7:45 P.M. bonfire
The dogs are relieved to have us back at home for the remainder of the evening, barking enthusiastic welcomes as our neighbors arrive to enjoy catching up around a backyard bonfire.
9:10 A.M. Bike Ride
We bicycle to The Gnome Bistro where we map out our ride over a hot coffee and traditional breakfast. Gravel is the name of the game in Chatham. On May 21, 1,200 cyclists from around the country will gather for the Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder, a 65-mile dirt road ride. But today, we’ll have them all to ourselves.