@ Broadway, or Java @ Broadway, as it is informally called, after the large letters that adorn the front door, is a new restaurant on lower Broadway, which had its soft opening on May 3. It’s already attracted a following among high school kids and employees from Kingston Hospital and other nearby medical facilities.
@ Broadway is more than just a place to eat, however: it’s also a poster child for the business transformation that’s awaiting every other down-at-the-heels building on Broadway, provided one brings a little sweat equity, design savvy, and vision to the project. Owners Lyn and JoAnn, who bought the building in 2008 and moved here from the West Coast, have beautifully restored the original Victorian house with its bumped-out storefront at 346 Broadway, transforming the shabby building into a freshly painted, three-toned beauty, its spiffy black, brown, and gray colors as stylish as a fedora.
Totally getting what’s great about Kingston’s architectural fabric–that is, its retro charm—they’ve installed a take-out window overlooking the sidewalk. While waiting for your $2 hot dog or $3.50 breakfast wrap, you can stand under the metal awning, a Kingston original that’s been spruced up at Don’s Auto Shop with a glossy coat of toffee-colored paint. The window is not only a convenience for customers but also makes the street a friendlier place. To further improve their patch of streetscape, the partners have spread cedar mulch around the bases of the trees the length of the block. They’ve even posted a notice in the storefront window, which reads like a manifesto: JAVA@Broadway takes pride in being a neighbor in our block of Broadway. We show our appreciation in keeping the street clean, by picking up trash and by placing the red mulch around the trees on our side of the street. Think Green and Clean on Broadway!
Java’s narrow, high-ceiled interior is chic yet homey, with its speckled black linoleum floor, off-white walls, two red-lacquer frame mirrors, a back counter painted black with an octagonal black-and-white tiled top. A giant spoon, fork, knife and spatula hanging on the wall are a pop touch, while a row of Buddhist flags confers a silent blessing. A low bench along the wall is actually a repurposing of the original 1740s stone foundation. A few tables and a minimal couch complete the clean, streamlined look.
“I wanted to re-invent the old Java places from the 1930s,” said Lyn, who noted that her love of black probably goes back to her days in Seattle when it was still cool. “@ Broadway is like coming back to the Seattle of the 1970s and 1980s.” She said there are plans to clean up the weedy back yard and install a patio for customers.
The menu specializes in lunch basics: grilled cheese, ham and cheese, a “Big Mama” (bacon, ham, and cheese), melted cheese dog wrap, sausage and a bun, all-beef hot dogs, and a meatball sandwich. “We like our sandwiches to be hearty,””said JoAnn. There’s a choice of bread–Italian, hemp, wheat, English muffin–and cheese (American or Swiss). The cornbread that accompanies the homemade chili is fresh baked, and the soup is made daily. The pesto is shipped from Los Angeles and made from basil grown hydroponically. Coffee is just $1, and there are 60 varieties of teas arranged on the rack behind the counter.
Lyn and JoAnn also plan to open a club upstairs, with an open mike, comedy acts, live music, and a piano bar. The entrance will be like a speakeasy, with patrons knocking on a side door and passing through the distinguished former front hall, its handsome banister and paneling still covered in the original oxblood paint.
Kingston is a long way from Hollywood, so how did the two West Coasters end up here? They’d been looking for a place to retire to, heard about the Hudson Valley from a friend, and discovered Kingston after doing some research on the Internet. The two had been driving up Broadway on their first visit when a car collided in front of them, an event that JoAnn credits with their discovery of 346 Broadway. “We had stopped in front because of the car accident and saw the for-sale sign. It was a good price,” she recalled.
Upon purchasing the building, they installed a new roof immediately, quickly stemming the damage from leaks that in six months’ time would have doomed the building, said Lyn. It took them three years to do the complete renovation, including replacement of the exterior fishtail shingles and clapboard, with work suspended during the winter months. (JoAnn, who is in the military, was serving in Kosovo during much of that time, which further slowed down the process.)
“The local populace is very friendly and nice,” said Lyn. “We also love the city for its three centuries of architecture and grace.” –Lynn Woods