common / Restaurants
'People Gave Us a Chance,' Says Riverview's Jim Ely
Local businessman and restaurateur James "Jimmy" Ely is a Queens native who, as a boy, migrated with his family to Cold Spring and graduated from Haldane High School. His place of business, the Riverview Restaurant, is known as one of Cold Spring's best.
Jimmy and his wife Lori, along with a staff of about 25 people, prepare and serve Continental/American cuisine, with influences from all over the world. In season, they grow many of their own herbs and vegetables.
Asked how his restaurant became one of the best in Cold Spring, Ely replied, "The people here gave us a chance." We offer consistent quality and some of the best recipes around. We also pay attention to feedback from customers."
Ely reported that there has been little to no drop-off in business because of the weak economy. "We've done great in a poor economy, and just okay in a great economy," he reflected.
Jimmy credits his loyal staff as a key reason why he can offer such consistent quality and service. "We have what I guess you'd call department heads to manage the staff," he said. "Fernando, who is the number one person in the kitchen, has been here for 14 years. He started as a dishwasher. My wife Lori manages the front of the house and the business end, including decorating and selecting ingredients," Ely continued. "Juan, who is in charge of the dining room, has been here 10 years. Roberto makes all of our pizzas and desserts. He has been here for 20 years. Everybody has input into the process. I really believe that consistency in staffing makes for consistency in the product."
Roberto's pizzas are known locally as some of the tastiest in town. There is a Wednesday night prix fixe special at $14.95 per person that is especially popular with local families who can't always afford to eat out. The price covers pizza as well as other menu items. This reporter took her family to Riverview on a Saturday evening and enjoyed the Mexican pizza, which features black beans, guacamole, and other traditional Mexican flavors. Having grown up in California and traveled in Mexico, we were a little skeptical about the cross-pollination of Italian and Mexican cuisines, but the effect was delectable. The desserts were equally flavorful, featuring delicate buttery crusts and light but creamy custards.
Although Jim and Lori purchased the restaurant twenty years ago, in 1989, the business has been in the same location since 1941 under the same Riverview name. In addition to a pleasing modern décor and uncluttered river views, Riverview features original art by a number of local and regional artists. The bar and dining room art changes out every six weeks, Ely explained. Working with the GarrisonArtCenter, the Elys host winter fundraisers at Riverview for local food pantries. These events take the form of artists' openings, and 100 percent of the revenue goes to the pantries with the help of Bruce Campbell and the Cold Spring Lions Club. In the wintertime they also host high-energy Artists of the HudsonValley events with entertainers such as saxophonist Rob Schepps.
Jim talked about his professional experience before coming to Riverview. Although he once worked as a dishwasher at Butterfield Hospital, his experience also includes work at the renowned Quilted Giraffe, in New York City; the Banff Springs Hotel, in Alberta; Brennan's and LeRuth's, in New Orleans; and Maxime's, in Westchester. In addition he has worked at yacht chartering in the West Indies, hotel management in St. Thomas, and commercial salmon and herring fishing in British Columbia.
Jim and Lori's future plans include a "Riverview Home Chef" line of custom cuts of meat and fresh seafood, as well as prepared heat-and-serve foods.
Our family dinner for three, with two pizzas, a salad, non-alcoholic drinks, and two desserts, came to about $60 before the tip.
For a sample menu and pricing, visit www.riverdining.com, or call 845-265-4778 for reservations and more information.