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How To Create a Vibrant Commercial Sector in Croton

January 6, 2008

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
To the editor,

While I agree that the current administration has done little or nothing to move Croton ahead I feel that this is a systemic issue in our village.

While your article pointed to large issues let me highlight the most simple that would increase the lifestyle of everyone who enters our village: Creating a vibrant commercial sector. The first step to make this happen is to create decent commercial zoning. Allowing doctors offices to proliferate in the commercial areas of our “upper village” is horrendous and destroys the life of this area. It is also easily cured.

First floor commercial space should be reserved for retail —not for professionals. They don’t need the store front space and it detracts from building a fabric of stores that would attract regular customers.

The same is true of allowing “automobile oriented” enterprises in the Harmon section. The area should be rezoned immediately to retail and nothing else.

Two easy steps to Croton finally having two commercial areas that would raise the bar for the entire village!

Sincerely,

Terrence Yanni

On June 10, 2008 2:44 PM, greengurl said:

hi and thank you for responding to my post bklyntocroton however; i did not list the restaurants below as my “faves” here in croton. if you re-read my post you will see that i listed them to point out that although the town is on a down turn, let’s not forget all those hard working folks that opened new businesses within the past 2 years.

i myself moved to croton, from brooklyn less than 2 years ago and i f&$K!@ love croton. i would trade smith street lined restaurants, and boho fashionistas, anyday for the beautiful trees, the crisp air, the birds and the water parks. i have had many, i mean many, a 2nd rate overpriced meal on smith street.

if you want opinions on good restaurants with good sauces; i tend to gravitate toward india house and peter pratt’s. for take out, mex-to-go and the sushi joint across the street. outside of croton i would try the iron horse grill, pony express, and ACE. westchester is like brooklyn, you can not compare it to manhattan, it is what it is.

i think it WONDERFUL that everyone is so stoked for new businesses here in croton and if i were a fledgling entrepreneur i think it would be a really good time to start or expand a current business. good luck to whoever takes the plunge and i will be there to spend my $$$.

On May 18, 2008 3:21 PM, dors said:

brooklyntocroton, Too bad too sad you won’t go back to Ocean House - maybe now I can get a table. My restaurant picks: Give 44 Tapas a couple more tries. Try a mix of items off the menu. They’ve changed chefs so it’s def worthy of a couple more tastes. Mauros (formerly Guidas) in Ossining is a charming an intimate Italian restaurant. Family run, warm and inviting with an extensive menu that will keep you coming back. I’m not kidding when I say the parpadelle melted in my mouth. Our local Jen has been known to tickle the ivories (hopefully again soon) and the bartender is friendly and knowledgeable. Okay….what else….You didn’t mention Justin Thyme so I assume you’ve not been ( but I don’t know how that could be). Friendly hometown spot, good wraps and burgers, cold tap and bottled beer. Don’t venture too far into the menu. Stick to the sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Real friendly waitstaff. Let’s not forget The Tavern next to Ocean House. Thursdays and Sundays are 10¢ Buffalo wings. Gigantic tray of chips with a bowl of guac, salsa, and red bean dip (yum) for like $4.50 to start. Cold Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap - now come on! You’ve just not been looking in the right places. You want Brooklyn….we got Brooklyn baby. Happy dining :-)

On September 10, 2009 10:02 AM, John said:

Honeys Restaurant in Croton-on-hudson, the food is so-so, but the problem is sanitation. They leave their full garbage cans with rotten food out on the sidewalk for sometimes two days straight. After the cans are emptied by the Village, there is rancid food all over the sidealk that stinks for 100 yards downwind. They were asked nicely to stop doing this, but it’s only gotten worse. Bad neighbors.

On May 18, 2008 10:45 AM, TeaDrinker said:

Also in the Gazette this week, and in response to the closing of Wondrous Things, Mayor Greg Schmidt said, “I always thought they were doing well.”

What? Is Mayor Schmidt, a local chiropractor and member of Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber’s board of directors, that out of touch with the pulse of Croton’s business economy?

Well, I think he is.

And just to set the record straight, Mayor Schmidt had nothing to do with setting up the economic development committee that now meets regularly. In fact, Schmidt sat on his hands while Croton resident Kieran Murray got the ball rolling and later helped to form a committee to bring property owners together to discuss redevelopment ideas.

On March 12, 2008 3:16 PM, bklyntocroton said:

This is my first time blogging here as I’ve been looking for the right “venue” to express my dissatisfaction with the village restaurant situation. I have to slightly disagree with greengurl in her top picks for places to eat in Croton. I definitely think Mex-to-Go deserves a mention – they have great burritos, a distinct personality and are open late enough for me to stop by on my way from the train station. They also have a really friendly staff. TAPAS77, on the other hand, did not impress me!

Ocean House Oyster Bar & Grill is by far the finest dining available in the village. And although their sauces tend to be a tad too strong to be considered great, the ambiance of the place makes up for it… The main problem is not the sauces (which they should continue working on), but the fact that I can never get in! I’ve been “lucky” enough to get in at around 5:30 PM twice, as the place doesn’t take reservations. You either leave your number to be called in an hour or so should a table become available, or, if you are like me, leave disappointed and head to Umami (most of the time). The demand for decent seafood must be so great that the place can afford to be open only Tuesdays through Saturday. Moreover, they are open for dinner only and don’t serve alcohol (although you can bring your own). None of this matters much if you can’t get a table! A few weeks ago I was turned away for the fifth and final time – as I am not going back there! There was an empty table for four, and we were a party of two. Since they don’t take reservations, I am sure they were simply waiting for a party of four; and I am sure they got one shortly. Being that we live in a village, I am also pretty certain that the hostess may have recalled turning me away multiple times. I think it would have been a good business practice to have served us.

My last point is about the Black Cow. I love this coffee shop, as it is the most city-like café in the village. But am I the only resident who can’t make it there before closing? I am sure it’s all about supply and demand, but the fact that the shop closes at 4 pm on Sundays is sad.

I don’t want to just complain and not offer any solutions. Unfortunately, I am not yet in a position to open my own bistro with great food and convenient hours. But if I do, I’ll be sure to welcome all those looking for good food and good company. Until then, I’ll be searching for places that would make living in this village a little more exciting. Any suggestions?

On February 9, 2008 1:55 PM, greengurl said:

hi -

i am a very sporadic croton blogger, and i appreciate reading this blog but could do with a little less of the unproductive “attacks” that seem to go on here. i am not pointing the finger here i just think this is a conversation that needs to continue. you are all on the same page - weather it be an old-fashioned village or a not just dinner village it all sounds amazing to me.

I want to highlight all the very successful *new-ish STORES that I really LOVE IN CROTON (for the record people - i have no association with any of these businesses and am new to croton myself.):

THE TAVERN AT CROTON LANDING - really really great neighborhood watering hole with awesome burgers, beer and pizza.

LIFESTYLES BY LISA on 9A - when you need a quick gift (for yourself) it is amazing. there are cute accessories, clothes and home items. lisa has great taste!

MEMPHIS MAE”S BBQ - delicious and fast service.

MEX-TO-GO - we need a few more of these!

CARUSOS DELI - REALLY delicious breakfast sandwiches. MAMA CARUSO cooks all the homemade take-away food. She makes her own ravioli!!! don’t miss her eggplant parmigiana. TO DIE FOR.

TAPAS 77 - this is a new tapas place that slipped under the radar. on the first night it was jam- packed. how they do it? great vibe. great food.

i myself would love to open a shop or boutique someday and i would like to ask - do you see a luxury/modern gift/candles/accessories shop working in this area?

some of what i would love to see here:

a modern furniture shop a perfumerie a jewelry store an organic body shop an art store a frame shop a unique “general store” a women’s clothing boutique a vintage shop a small cozy french bistro a shoe store an outdoor store a pet shop

i think the real problem here is tuff. real estate is high therefore rent is high in a town that just isn’t there yet. for example, the store “for rent” across from umami was asking $3000 a month. that is just insanity! because of that most business owners want homeruns, so we keep getting the pizza and the nails. i think we all need to keep dreaming, hoping and believe that croton will find a way!

best regard to all, greengurl

On January 18, 2008 12:02 AM, Just The Facts said:

Businessperson,

Get over yourself. Despite what you think, no one elected you the town know it all. I for one am growing quite tired of your constant and consistent name calling and berating of anyone who dares to disagree with you.

I also find it quite humorous that you think others on this blog are trying to play the role of censor. I think you should take a long hard look in the mirror. It is quite clear to me that such censorship is preceisely what you hope to accomplish by your childish behavior, name calling, attacks and silly “wagers” (gee wiz, like you never heard the expression “i would bet good money”? Do you take all expressions literally?)

Finally, I note that you completely disregarded (or should I say ignored) the substance of my prior post, in particular the generally accepted business theory (taught at all business schools and practiced throughout the real world) that closely competitive businesses often thrive in close proximity to each other (e.g. restaurant rows, automalls, etc.) Using this theory, it is not as clear as you suggest that another gourmet food store would harm Zeytinia. But, I gather it is easier to call me names then to address the substance and facts I presented.

On January 17, 2008 6:52 PM, TeaDrinker said:

I have just returned from a lecture gig. A few words to those who objected to my previous comment to the letter from “Terrence Yanni.” To “dors”: I was not “ornery and condescending.” Why do some people try to play moderator and censor the tone of anyone’s comments? What has happened to free speech? This blog is not a playground sandbox, and participants shouldn’t be cautioned to play nicely.

It so happens I was merely trying to protect your brother’s former enterprise, the Black Cow, now in other hands, and his Blue Pig, from those who keep suggesting that what we need is another Black Cow or Blue Pig in Croton, The former is already being harassed with the reduction of outside parking to 15 minutes. This may be enough time to make a deposit at the Wachovia Bank, but it is hardy enough time to order a latte to go at the Black Cow, much less to enjoy a coffee and croissant there in comfort.

To “Benedict,” I say thanks for your understanding that I was trying to educate you and “Terrence Yanni” in the niceties of the Zoning Law, which is well worth reading. Croton has never supported a pub, traditional or otherwise. The closest thing to a local pub of sorts was Elmer Suds on Grand Street, but it did not long survive its move to Harmon, making a suggested Harmon pub even less likely to be successful. Justin Thyme, at the original Elmer Suds location, may aspire to the pub mantle, but the alarming number of negative Zagat reviews it has received calling attention to a tired menu, listless service staff and insulting bartenders. This latter knock can be fatal to a pub. One reviewer suggested that it needed “a good cleaning,” an opinion with which I concur.

Finally, we come to perennial whiner “Just the Facts.” I did not “launch into unprovoked attacks” on “Benedict” and “Terrence Yanni,” as he charges. I merely corrected assertions they made about the content of Croton’s Zoning Ordinance. He seems masochistically to want to be picked on, but I am unwilling to oblige him. I recall him as the person who offered to make a wager with me for “good money.” He sniveled and welshed on it when I set the stakes at ten grand, claiming that his words were just a turn of phrase. After that, I recall he vowed never to acknowledge my existence again, but he seems to have reneged on this promise as well. As for his other statements, I shall do for him what he promised, to do for me—that is to say, I shall ignore him.

On January 10, 2008 9:51 PM, KWilly said:

Recently on the North County News Forum there has been talk from loyal supporters of the Mayor about the business situation in Croton. I thought here on Crotonblog would be a good place to address some of what has been said.

Mayor Schmidt was credited with creating the Economic Development Committee. The truth about that committee is that the Republicans did not talk about this issue in the last election while the Democrats did and in their “7 for 07” one of those goals was creating an Economic Development Committee. Then the Republicans won the election and became the majority party and they decided to ignore those who aren’t loyal supporters like the ones who talk about them positively on the North County News Forum. Trustee Ann Gallelli, however, still pushed for an Economic Development Committee. After being ignored, there was a Meeting among Croton business owners where Trustee Gallelli brought up the idea and the Mayor was forced into agreeing to start this committee. Therefore I think it is fair to say that Trustee Gallelli is responsible for starting this committee and that not only did the Mayor not start this committee, he was forced into starting it.

Kevin W. Davis

On January 10, 2008 4:34 PM, dors said:

Just The Facts, you’re absolutely right it’s no surprise Businessperson was ornery and condescending; we’ve come to expect it. And Benedict keep the posts coming. The Crotonblog community is for all, not just those full of themselves. We all have valid and interesting ideas so thank you for posting.

On January 9, 2008 2:58 PM, Benedict said:

Businessperson, you remind me of Nick Burns from that SNL skit with Jimmy Fallon

http://www.cnettv.com/9742-1_53-11125.html

I certainly am not as informed as you on Croton zoning laws. The fact that there are car dealerships in Croton led me to believe that they were permitted. Thanks for educating me on that point.
The fact that Croton can support many delis, pizzerias and nail salons led me to believe that we could support more than one ice cream shop or cafe. Your points about the failed ice cream venture and lack of parking are valid, however I think you are missing my overall point about creating an environment that provided more than just a restaurant experience. The fact that every small town in Westchester supports a local pub or two: Sherwoods in Larchmont, Doubledays in Dobbs Ferry, Squires in Briarcliff, MacArthurs in Pleasantville…etc, led me to believe that the Harmon area (with its large population of commuters who use our lot) could support such an establishment. Your assertion that such places exist solely in big American cities or Europe makes me chuckle, so thanks for that. You are definitely right about the demise of bookstores, but I think you are missing the forest for the trees as to my overall point. Would it be possible to create a “Main St” type environment in Harmon where people can take a stroll after or before dinner and enjoy some other relevant retail opportunities? Besides saying that you are way smarter than me I would love to hear your thoughts on that concept.

On January 9, 2008 2:41 PM, Just The Facts said:

Surprise, suprise. Once again Business Person launches into unprovoked attacks on commentators on Croton Blog…

Benedict & Terrence, keep your ideas coming. Despite what Business Person thinks, s(he) does not have a lock on what this village needs or what businesses may cannibalize another. For the record, countless studies have demonstrated that close concentrations of competitive enterprises (e.g. restaurants, car dealers, speciality food stores) often result in an increase in business to all such competing enterprises as the area becomes a destination location. To simplify, 1+1 sometimes equals 3 in such instances.

I am sure this post will be greeted by another diatribe by Business Person claiming that I am some sort of idiot or something. Sobeit, it only further demonstrates what type of person that Business Person truely is.

On January 9, 2008 10:45 AM, TeaDrinker said:

The commenters named “Terrence Yanni” and ”Benedict” who suggested that automobile dealerships “be zoned out of Croton for good” are apparently so uninformed that they do not know that such dealerships are already zoned out. So much for the validity of their suggestions. The first commenter offers a peculiar definition of retail. It never ceases to amaze me how people who have no knowledge of the realities of starting up a business are so ready to offer uninformed suggestions for risk capitalists to lose their shirts and damage existing businesses in the process. With no indication of any planning expertise, “Benedict” blithely suggests that what is specifically needed to rejuvenate Harmon are (1) an ice cream/frozen yogurt shop, (2) a pub, and (3) a bookstore. Neither he nor “Terence Yanni” acknowledges that the key to the problem is that Harmon lacks adequate parking

It so happens that there once was an ice cream shop in Harmon where the Umami Café is now located. But why add competition to an already going concern, The Blue Pig? Similarly, others have foolishly suggested that in view of Zeytinia’s success, what Croton needs is another Zeytinia (to compete with it for the limited specialty market trade so both can go under). What Croton needs are noncompeting new businesses that the shopping public will support by patronizing them. As for a pub, Croton’s drinking habits would not warrant nor support a P.J. Clarke’s look-alike here. Pubs thrive in neighborhoods and localities in Britain and Ireland and in large American cities where cramped apartment dwellers seek a “home away from home” in which to drink and meet people. That’s not Croton.

As for a personal bookstore, an animal that is on the endangered list, I am among those who gritted our teeth and paid list price for books at Books ‘n Things in Chilmark to try to keep the Newman’s personal bookshop afloat in the face of the deep discounts available from the chains. Today, with amazon.com offering overnight delivery and a huge inventory of deeply discounted titles, it is impossible for any independent bookstore to survive. Even those bookshops with a loyal customer base built up over many years cannot break even and are attempting to find buyers. “Benedict” can hardly be au courant with what has happened to the independent bookstore all across America.

The idea that Croton should offer cash, tax rebates or other inducements for businesses to come here is a slap in the face for existing businesses, many if which are struggling to survive. If I had my way, I should like to see a bakery in Croton where one could buy fresh bread daily, Parisian style. I should also like to see an old-fashioned butcher shop that would cut meat to order, an old-fashioned vegetable store whose owner would hit the wholesale market early each morning and come back with the freshest of fruits and vegetables. An old-fashioned fish market would also be nice.

But I’m not holding my breath. And I’m not urging anyone to risk their capital in such ventures, especially since such a large slice of Croton’s population is content with the middling quality of the breads, caked and pies, the meats and vegetables and the fish bought at ShopRite or the A & P. It is a maxim of business at retail that you cannot ordain success by attempting to control the complexion of the business mix. The sooner well-intentioned advocates for improvement of the business climate in Croton recognize this, the better.

On January 7, 2008 10:33 AM, Benedict said:

I agree with you Terrence, shopping breeds more shopping, and retail stores should be offered great deals to move into Croton.

I live in the Harmon area and it seems like the Auto focused businesses have started to move themselves out of the area (thankfully). It might be a good time to think about rezoning them out for good.

Also, the Harmon area is more of a resturant row than a shopping center, so maybe it’s a better idea to support that trend.

If we could somehow offer incentives for a cafe, ice cream/frozen yogurt shop, pub, or a bookstore to move in where the dealership used to be, I think it would transform that area into a “full night out” experience rather than just a “dinner only” experience.

On January 6, 2008 6:05 PM, weewill said:

Mr. Yanni …. As a long time poster on crotonblog I welcome you. It’s an ideal way to share ideas, hopes and dreams with our neighbors as well as an open and clear the way to register valid complaints about things we’d like to see changed and/or improved.

And because our Mayor and board majority have stated they don’t read or contribute to the blog, I am taking the liberty of sending your post directly to them at their offices in the Croton Municipal building.

I hope they take the time to read your suggestions and perhaps even to take some action.



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