The “Jolly”, as it is familiarly and affectionately known, is finally back, and Pine Island and surrounding communities could not be more thrilled.
Legendary Onion farmer Vincent Kosuga, who had created controversy by buying and selling onion futures in the 1950’s, opened the original Jolly Onion Inn in 1961. Two owners followed Kosuga. The restaurant/banquet hall had been a popular place for Orange County resident to eat, but it was a special focal point for the Black Dirt Region- a place where locals went to celebrate weddings, to talk business, to listen (and dance) to polka king Jimmy Sturr and other entertainment. In 2008, however, the restaurant was shuttered by an ownership change coupled with the recession and was forced to close.
It took ten years to find a new management team with restaurant experience and the finances for the November 2018 re-opening.
After the restaurant went out of business, William Brown, owner of Lowland Farms, acquired the building and became the financial partner of the restaurant. Tom Mastrantoni, whose family owned the Roccoroma food market in Goshen, became the director and another partner. “Having had many meals with my family when I was growing up, I remember the fond memories and how busy the place was. I knew we could bring back the magic and understood there was an underground fan base for the re-opening if done correctly. That’s why we went for it against all odds!” Tom Mastrantoni reminisces.
Chef Armand Vanderstigchel, a Dutch native who is nationally published with cookbooks” Adirondack Cuisine” and the bestseller “Chicken Wings Across America”, joined as a chef and co-owner.
A fourth partner with NYC hospitality experience is handling the front of the House.
“The Jolly Onion Inn has been a treasured landmark in Pine Island for decades”, says Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Vice President Janet Zimmerman. “It’s been sorely missed. Our neighbors have been looking forward to a new Jolly Onion Inn for years, and they are just ecstatic it happened.”
Chef Vanderstigchel menu accents central European cuisine- German Jager Schnitzel, Polish Pierogis, Salmon Scandinavia and the exclusive Amsterdam Dutch Bitterballen (Ragout filled meatballs). “Our onion soup is becoming quite famous”, Vanderstigchel says. “we make 180 gallons a week.” Daily Seafood specials balance out the menu coupled with specialty nights such as “Sauerbraten, Prime Rib and traditional Western New York Fish fry. “We have sought to blend classics in a new light with contemporary and Farm-to Table accents to carry on the tradition of the past, honor the area and offer a different cuisine hard to find in the region” says Chef Armand vanderstigchel.
“Given our experience in our first few months, I’m confident that the restaurant will be success.” Brown says. “We have tremendous support locally, and Pine Island- in the heart of the Black Dirt region-is an increasingly attractive destination for people from the city and suburbs who want to get out to the country to visit the wineries, distilleries, breweries and the farm area.”
The mission of the Jolly Onion is to provide a cozy and comfortable hub for the region with affordable pricing, huge portions and heart-felt friendly service where our quests are like family!!