Tuckahoe’s downtown in the midst of a rebranding

By Mark Lungariello

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Taking orders at the Broken Bow Brewery tasting room. Taking orders at the Broken Bow Brewery tasting room.

The Fryer Tuck is Ken Austria’s version of shepherd’s pie. It’s made with turkey chili instead of ground beef and is topped with four-cheese mac ’n’ cheese instead of mashed potatoes.

Austria, the head chef at Tuck’d Away Bar and Grill on Yonkers Avenue in Tuckahoe, came up with the dish late one night in March, struggling to stay awake while watching Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” He was brainstorming recipes with unique character and wanted a unique name — he thought of Friar Tuck from the Robin Hood legends.

“Even though the character is not in that movie, I named it the Fryer Tuck,” he said. It was a reference to the restaurant name, which itself is a reference to its corner location in the village of Tuckahoe. Inside Tuck’d Away, which opened in February, historical photos of the village’s downtown are on display for visitors to take in while sampling the restaurant’s signature chicken wings that come with six options for sauces, including Spicy Peanut.

Owner Michael Cuozzo said the menu represents “your basic bar and pub food, but not basic.”

“We put our own spin on it,” he said. “It’s making it your own.”

Tuck’d Away is one of the latest examples of village restaurants and watering holes contributing to the growing brand of Tuckahoe. The village, which is made up of less than 1 square mile of land, is in the midst of a transformation, heralded by a number of new businesses that have opened their doors and are not afraid to wear their Tuckahoe pride on their sleeves.

Growlers Beer Bistro, on Main Street by Depot Square, has a “Tuckahoe Cheese Steak.” The Quarry on Main Street is named after the now-closed Tuckahoe marble quarries — Tuckahoe marble was called some of the best in the country, used even in the Washington Monument.

Tuckahoe Mayor Steven Ecklond equates the local flair to motorcycle enthusiasts who get “Harley Davison” tattoos. “It makes me feel good that businesses that are here want to brand the name of the village,” he said.

Artwork on display at Tuck'd Away on Yonkers Avenue. Artwork on display at Tuck’d Away on Yonkers Avenue.

Broken Bow Brewery, which opened last August on Marbledale Road, has an American pale ale named after Marbledale. The family-owned company added the village name to its logo that it prints on pint glasses in its tasting room and on other merchandise, according to Kristen Stone, head of marketing for Broken Bow.

“The locals love that,” she said. The company is already seeing expansion after its first year, adding to a staff that initially included only five members of the LaMothe family. Its taps can be seen at restaurants throughout the area (Tuck’d Away among them) and it sells three different styles of beer in cans, with a fourth — Russian Imperial Stout — on the way soon. The brewery’s beers — and the name of Tuckahoe — are for sale at Stew Leonard’s and several specialty markets.

“It’s been a very interesting and fun ride,” Stone said of the brewery’s first year. “We didn’t know what to expect.”

The post-industrial Tuckahoe

Marbledale Road was zoned to allow only for industrial uses up until the last decade. Broken Bow represents one of the businesses that has come in as part of a “new Marbledale” that is taking hold since the village government changed the zoning to attract more commercial diversity there.

KI Martial Arts and Paws & Play Pet Resort have already opened on Marbledale and Italian restaurant Gina Marie’s Chianti Restaurant occupies the former space of The Quarry restaurant (then called Joe’s Quarry Inn).

The marquee change is the plan for construction of a five-story, 163-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott Hotel on a long-vacant industrial site there. The 91,000-square-foot hotel will include a standalone restaurant building. That project began its process in front of the village Planning Board on July 6. Across from Broken Bow, an ice skating rink is set to open within the next year, village officials said.

Ecklond said the rezone was “huge” in revitalizing the corridor, which, though it still has manufacturing and auto body businesses, the village has envisioned as needing a new identity. Ecklond was a village trustee when the rezone happened but credited the change to the work of many before him. He said the influx of businesses is helping to improve the assessed value of village land to strengthen its property tax base and increase the amount of local sales tax generated while not adding children to the local school systems. (Depending on where in the village they live, residents attend either Eastchester public schools or Tuckahoe public schools, the latter of which has roughly 1,000 students in the entire system.)

Growlers in Tuckahoe offers unique beers and a "Tuckahoe Cheesesteak." Growlers in Tuckahoe offers unique beers and a “Tuckahoe Cheesesteak.”

“It took a long time to get here, and I just happen to be on the second floor of Village Hall when a lot of these great things are happening,” he said.

Residential boom

More significant even than the trending away from industrial use is an in-construction singular residential development on the corner of Marbledale Road and Main Street. The project involves three companies and will build three rental-apartment buildings on a 3.4-acre lot with 108 one- and two-bedroom units and commercial space as well. The developers are spending at least $150,000 to improve the Main Street park across the street, with renovations including new benches and park furniture.

Mirado Properties, which owns the site, is a Tuckahoe-based company that has been behind high-profile projects in the downtown, including a brick-design townhouse development in the Main Street corridor that set the aesthetic tone of village construction in the last decade. Bronxville’s Glenco Group L.L.C. and Roseland, a Mack-Cali subsidiary, are the other companies involved in the development.

Ecklond said the buildings, which are set to begin renting next year and be completed in 2015, will bring young, commuting professionals to the village and increase foot traffic from the site down to Tuckahoe’s Metro-North station.

“One thing is for sure, once that project is built on Main and Marbledale Road, it’s going to change the whole character of Main Street,” he said.

Phil Raffiani, of Mirado, said he believes rental units near the train station will remain very popular in lower Westchester County, as high property taxes scare young adults away from buying homes. The increasing unaffordability of homeownership in the area makes luxury rentals an attractive option, particularly in neighborhoods where rent may be more affordable than areas like Bronxville and Scarsdale, he said.

Raffiani said he had noticed Tuckahoe was changing nearly 10 years ago, but that change seems to be accelerating. With most developable land in the village now off the table, he said there was still room for future projects.

“From here, you’re going to see your knockdowns and rebuildings,” Raffiani said, noting that many village buildings are old. “When I say old, I don’t mean historical.”

Crestwood considerations

The village is unique, particularly for a community of its size, in that it has two “downtown” areas — its Main Street corridor and its Crestwood downtown near the Crestwood Metro-North station.

That area of the village also has some large projects on the horizon. Crestwood Builders Group L.L.C. is gearing up for construction using modulars to build 49 studio apartments at 300 Columbus Ave., at the site of a former gas station. The project is already in the excavation stages and construction is expected to go quickly — with the units completed and up for rent as soon as January.

The developer is committing $400,000 to an ongoing village capital project to relocate all utility lines in the Crestwood area underground. The village received a $500,000 Empire State Development grant nearly a decade ago to relocate electric wires on Columbus between Fisher and Lincoln avenues. The project turned out to be more expensive than anticipated and Tuckahoe later netted a $200,000 federal grant to offset some of the cost.

Ecklond, a lifelong village resident, said he believes the small-town feel and quality-of-life services are what is bringing the newfound interest to the village. “Tuckahoe was the best kept secret,” he said. “But now the secret’s out.”

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About the author

Mark Lungariello
Mark Lungariello is a former contributing editor to the Westchester and Fairfield business journals. He also wrote features for WAG magazine. Lungariello graduated from Columbia Journalism School and has won New York Press Association awards as an editor, columnist and reporter.

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