How was it for you growing up in Kingston, NY?
I enjoyed Growing up in Kingston for the most part. It’s kinda not quite a small town but not quite a city. It can also share in both positives. Kingston has always had this feel of old school culture to me being the first capital of NY State with the Stockade and Rondout districts. It always felt like there were things going on and things to do. I also tend to think of Kingston as encompassing the surrounding area’s because if you grew up here you were probably all over not only in Kingston but also Woodstock, Saugerties, Rhinebeck and Hurley etc. There’s always just been something cool about all those places. I’ve seen a lot of areas in Kingston cleaned up over the years. In the mid 90’s it was a little rough around the edges, but then again, that was also part of what I loved.
Did you feel the call of NYC when you spent time there as a kid?
So, I grew up in Kingston but my father worked out of NYC. On weekends we’d go to his apartment in the city. As a kid I defiantly loved going to the city and begged my dad every weekend to take me places in and around the city. I remember always wanting him to take me on walks throughout the city and to party’s at his friends houses. He remarried when I was about 10 and his new wife was head chef at a restaurant in NYC, Arizona 206. It was so exciting to go there every weekend to eat and get to hang out in the restaurant. It might be where my love for food and restaurant culture started. As I grew a little older though, as much as I loved the city — the intensity of things like the traffic, public transportation and small living quarters — seemed to outweigh all the cool things going on. But hey, living upstate, I could still visit whenever I wanted to easily.
Do you feel connected to the creatives leaving Brooklyn & moving to the Hudson Valley?
I love some of the people I’ve meet in the past 5-10 years as this sort of migration to the Catskills is happening. I think people are catching up with my teenage feelings of the city being a little too much and enjoying “country living” a little more, which is great. It’s really moved Kingston forward with things like creative spaces, tech, arts and culture. For a long time Kingston seemed on the verge of changing and breaking out. I think it’s slowly, but finally starting to happen.
How much time have you spent working in the food & beverage industry?
I’ve been working in the industry since I was a teenager, so 20+ years now at this point, in some capacity. Over that time period I had two year long sabbaticals to check out other parts of the country — once in Northern California right out of high school and then one in my mid to late 20’s down south in the Charleston area. Both times I ended up missing my friends and family in the Hudson Valley and returned home, but I got to work at some amazing places along the way!
Is it a non stop scene at Phoenicia Diner?
So, the Diner has really become a home to me, I can’t say enough kind things about the owner Mike and what he’s worked to build here. Not only a place for the out of town folks to feel at home in a hip updated version of diner culture but, also to the locals that love and support the diner. I, of course, get some feedback from people that visit and think it’s just a hipster Mecca to check off their list of cool things to Instagram while vacationing/daytripping in the Catskills. I tell people all the time how special the diner really is and the love that goes into everything we all do here. I’m not really even sure what a hipster is or how that term got so big. I’m sure I get categorized that way because I have a beard and tattoos but I’m more of a nerd that’s just really into Japanese tattoo’s and sneaker culture if we’re being specific. I just really see it as all these amazing people that walk in our doors everyday that we get to interact with. We get to share this moment with them as we do what we love — serving great food and giving them a memorable experience that we all get to share in. It’s really a blessing to be able to do that with so many people each and every day here in such a beautiful setting — in my own backyard. It feels like your throwing the coolest brunch party and everyone wants to come. Trust me we get a ton of locals because I’m local and I see so many people from here. It’s really amazing to have the support of our customers both near and far. I can’t wait to take all of that sort of feeling and energy into our future endeavors with Mike and the Diner family! So yeah, to answer your question I guess it is a pretty cool scene.
Do you think your kids are experiencing the Catskills differently than you did at their age?
I think that it’s possible they are experiencing more of what I felt growing up when I would hang out in places like Woodstock. Things felt a little more out of the eye of the city there which I liked. I specifically looked for a house to buy years ago that was in the Onteora school district just because some of the things that I went through growing up in Kingston were a little rough. I know Kingston has changed a lot and now some of those things aren’t as big of an issue, but I think either way it’s better for my kids to be out in a little more of a country setting. They’re not able to walk down the street, go to friends houses and all head over to the park by themselves because everything is just a block or two away. Besides that I think they have a lot of the same experiences that I had growing up in this area.
How did you feel doing this shoot for Riot Bear?
So, at first everyone thought it was kinda funny that I was approached to do this shoot. My personality is pretty shy. I’m not gonna lie, I was like is this something I’m really gonna do? But after my partner urged me to get some pictures of just myself — since I don’t really have any —and everyone at work saying I should just go for it since we were going to shoot at the Diner — I thought, what the heck, why not? I’m really glad I did. James and Paul were so nice and I’m so happy with the shots we got! So yeah, over all it was a very cool experience and again, It just adds to some of the wonderful people I’ve met here in the Catskills!
hat by Goorin Brothers, long sleeve t-shirt by Oh It's Teddy / tank top by Pair of Thieves, track pants by Palace, socks by Adidas, sneakers by Adidas NMD / hat by Larose, hoodie by Oh It's Teddy, shorts by Volcom, sneakers by Adidas NMD / hat by Bailey’s, shirt by Empire, joggers by Yeezy, sneakers by Consortium Adidas