The “Jolly,” as it is familiarly and affectionately known, is back, and Pine Island could not be more thrilled.
Legendary Onion farmer Vincent Kosuga, who had created controversy by buying and selling onion futures in the 1950s, opened the original Jolly Onion Inn in 1961. Two owners followed Kosuga. The restaurant/banquet hall had been a popular place for Orange County residents 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 buffeted by the recession and was forced to close.
It took 10 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 a financial partner of the restaurant. Tom Mastrantoni, whose family owned the Roccoroma food market in Goshen, became the director and another partner. Armand Vanderstigchel, a Dutch native who has written about Adirondack cuisine, joined as chef and co-owner. A fourth partner is handling the bar.
“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 that it’s happened.”
Vanderstigchel’s menu accents central European cuisine—German Jagerschnitzel, Polish pierogies and Dutch bitterballen (meatballs). “Our onion soup is becoming quite famous,” Vanderstigchel says. “We make 180 gallons a week.”
“Given our experience in our first few months, I’m confident that the restaurant will be a 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 or farm area.”
The Jolly Onion
625 Glenwood Rd, Pine Island
(845) 981-7272; thejollyonion.com