MONTEREY — This town’s only eatery, Roadside Store and Café, will close its doors at the end of the month. But if the owners have their way, this is not the end of the Roadside.
The owners, Gould Farm, a residential therapeutic center and farming operation, say they plan to build a larger facility at the same location, on Route 23. They will present plans to the public sometime in mid-November at the Monterey Library.
By then, they will have drawings of what they have in mind, as well as cost estimates. Gould Farm has begun raising funds for the project.
“It is solely because the building no longer can serve our mission effectively,” said Melanie Brandston, Gould Farm’s development director. “A new Roadside Store and Café will open to serve our mission and the local community as soon as the financial resources are available.”
Housed in a century-old, low-slung little red shack that once served as a gas station, Roadside opened as an eatery in 1978 and became famous for its hubcap-sized pancakes, tight quarters and healing work environment for people with mental health challenges.
“Just in general, it’s a very old building, and we’ve been dealing with maintenance issues for a very long time, and it’s really not conducive to our mission,” said Brandston.
She said Gould Farm employees and the farm’s guests have long raised the point that the tight kitchen quarters don’t allow for much in terms of culinary instruction.
“And the pandemic really highlighted that we need more space for the customer experience, too,” Brandston said.
Plans call for consolidating under a single roof both the café operation and the sale of baked goods and farm products, which are currently sold at Gould Farm’s Harvest Barn about a mile away on Gould Road.
“If we can have enough money in hand from charitable contributions to start construction in early ’22, that would be ideal,” Brandston said.
The new building would sit further back from Route 23 than the current Roadside. It would include both outdoor and indoor dining.
“There would be a retail area, and people could come in and get a cup of coffee, get a croissant, grab the paper and leave very easily, or they can, you know, sit there and eat and buy a T-shirt,” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, Roadside has served takeout only and has provided picnic tables for outdoor dining.
Gould Farm was founded in 1913 and sits on 700 acres. It’s 90-plus residents partake in animal care, milking and cheesemaking, gardening, baking, maple syrup production and kitchen work at Roadside Café.
In 2007, Bon Appetit magazine named Roadside as one of the top 10 breakfast places in the United States. The eatery has been popular among locals, second homeowners and tourists.
“It is a place of warmth, community and exceptional homemade food,” said Julie Kotler Snider, whose parents bought a summer home in Monterey in 1978 when she was 3. Snider has been eating at Roadside ever since. “Gould Farm has a special place in my heart, and I am so grateful that Roadside is staying, albeit new and improved.”
Michael “Salt” Loglisci, of Sandisfield, has been eating at Roadside since the 1980s.
“It was always an important part of our Saturday or Sunday breakfast or brunch,” he said. “I raised my infant son going there. He’s now 26. It has held a special place in all of our hearts. The food is wonderful, the people are wonderful and the mission is wonderful.”
Loglisci’s favorite meal?
“Certainly, the rainbow pancakes were huge,” he said. “Literally, huge.”