The sleepy Village of Catskill is located on the west bank of the Hudson River, opposite the City of Hudson, in Greene County, NY. Exit 21 on the NYS Thruway, Catskill has long envied the growth of similar communities located closer to the metropolitan sprawl of Manhattan. Instead of patiently waiting for the gentrification creeping up the Hudson to reach them, a group of Catskill locals has decided to try to jump start the village economy in an innovative way. They are giving away a restaurant – rent free!
According to the Catskill Action Team facebook page, one of their members is offering an existing restaurant on Main Street with a year’s free rent to a qualified and buzz-worthy chef, one who can create a destination eatery that will attract warm bodies to their village. Nina Sklansky, a transplanted copywriter credited with this idea, said "I don't know what the actual spark will be, but I certainly think this will help ignite whatever's going to happen...If people are going to linger, they're going to want to eat."
In the model of if-we-build-it-they-will-come, the Catskill Action Team is promoting a vacant Art Deco luncheonette to an innovative and newsworthy restaurateur, one who could create the kind of eating experience foodies would flock to. In exchange for capital investments on improvements, the lucky chef will have it rent free for the first year.
This is a win/win/win situation. A reliable tenant is found for a vacant Main Street building, some up-and-coming chef gets a central location in a soon-to-be-booming Hudson River community, and the Village of Catskill gets national headlines from a search gone viral. This story was picked up by the AP wire service and has appeared (so far) in newspapers as far away as Anchorage, Alaska. Soon it will be global!
If you are a chef looking to start your own restaurant in a village with a bright future, just 40 miles south of the state capital and 110 miles north of New York City, you owe it to yourself to check this opportunity out. The Village of Catskill could easily be a perfect fit!