After years of fundraising and scouting for locations, an educator and seasoned home brewer has finally realized his dream of opening a restaurant and bar in his hometown.
Ossining resident Scott Ryan, an 8th-grade science teacher at Ardsley Middle School, opened the doors of 6 Degrees of Separation in December. The name of the 850-square-foot bar and restaurant at 35 Main St. in Ossining stems from Ryan’s belief that each person can be connected to each other by six or fewer steps.
“6 Degrees is all about being connected,” he said.
Ryan has relied heavily on his own connections to open 6 Degrees of Separation. An Ossining resident for nearly two decades, Ryan began home-brewing beer in the early 1990s and soonafter connected with Ron McKechnie, a fellow science teacher and brewer. The two began discussing plans of opening a brewpub of their own.
“Owning a brewery is pretty much the dream of any home brewer,” Ryan said.
To get their project off the ground, Ryan and McKechnie, along with their business partner Glenn Sayers, promoted their beer at community festivals and fairs. They also donated their brews to private fundraisers and organizations.
“I wanted to build a place here,” he said. “One of the other partners wanted me to look in White Plains, in Rye, I’m like, ‘You don’t get it it. The idea is to have it here.’”
Community backing has already poured into 6 Degrees of Separation. In order to bring the project to life, the team created a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 and raised roughly $12,000.
“The support from the community has been tremendous,” he said, noting the pub’s motto that “it takes a village to raise a brewery.”
The business partners originally planned to transform the century-old Westerly Marina waterfront warehouse into their restaurant and brewery. However, plans for the estimated $4 million project fell through.
“My pockets weren’t quite that deep,” he said with a laugh.
Still, Ryan is enthusiastic about 6 Degrees of Separation’s location, which takes up residence just a few blocks from the Ossining Metro-North Railroad station in what was formerly McSorley’s Tavern. The team signed the lease for the restaurant in December 2015 and spent the following year renovating its interior and raising additional funds for the $1 million project.
The bar and restaurant opened its doors in December and has since held performances,
events and even a book launch for a local author.
“We want to focus on local artists,” he said. “The more we can give back to the community and support them, that’s the mission of this place.”
Though the team received their liquor license at the end of December, they are still awaiting a license that would allow them to brew their beer on site. Ryan said he hopes to have the approvals to create a brewery in the space below the restaurant by this summer.
“It’s still a little surreal,” he said. “Once we get the brewing up and going, it will feel more real.”
In the meantime, he is exploring the idea of working with an outside company that would brew beers off site so they could then be sold at 6 Degrees of Separation.
“We have about a dozen and a half recipes that are ready to go,” he said.
Ryan said 6 Degrees of Separation will add to the ongoing revitalization of the Ossining waterfront, along with other up-and-coming eateries and establishments, including Sing Sing Kill Brewery, and the recently opened $65 million Harbor Square apartment complex.
“It’s going to create a destination for the area,” he said.
Though Ryan said he may eventually focus on running the restaurant and brewery full time, he plans to continue juggling his two gigs- educator by day and restaurateur by night- for the foreseeable future.
“It’s like an alter ego,” he joked.
Eventually, Ryan hopes to open a separate space for beer production, possibly reviving plans at the Westerly Marina, and an additional venue with an expanded stage for performances. For now though, Ryan said he is focused on providing “amazing food and awesome beer.”
“I equate it to kayaking. We put one foot in, and we just pushed off with the other foot and we’re about to sit down,” he said. “There’s a little wiggling, we’re floating on our own, and we’re getting there, but we’re waiting for those rapids around the corner.”