SHE’D ALREADY BOUGHT AN UPSTATE HOUSE, upstate in this case being Kingston, as defined relative to Manhattan. “I’m a child of the first Woodstock generation,” says Merle Borenstein, “and I love the area. So I bought this place, but I’m still working in the city.” Working in the restaurant business, as it happens, managing a prestigious operation. “I’m vacation in my upstate home, thinking I’d like to run a restaurant in the area. But I didn’t tell anyone.
|Photo by B. A. Nilsson|
Borenstein looked at it. “It had nothing! No kitchen! It was a bar in the 1890s, I was told, but at this point the neighborhood was run down and brutal. A tough neighborhood, they told me! I looked at it and said, ‘I’m from Brooklyn. It looks fabulous.’”
Thus the Armadillo Bar and Grill opened in May, 1987. “You know how you’re supposed to have six months of salary and other expenses in the bank? We had nothing. We opened with a fundraising event, for Hospice, and it did very well. And we’ve been going ever since. We’re very seriously fortunate. And we’ve stayed small.”