Twenty-five years. That’s a great run for just about anything—a marriage, a job, your favorite car—but especially for a business in the volatile world of food and beverage.
So how does a craft brewery and restaurant not only stick around but thrive for two-and-a-half decades? Angela Lobianco-Barone, co-owner of the Hyde Park Brewing Company that recently marked its 25th year, says it came down to two things. “Do what you know, and go back to your roots; that’s what we did during the pandemic,” she explains. “You know what works and what to do with very little because we’re old-school and have been around for quite some time.”
Angela’s enthusiasm is palpable, and for that she credits her father Anthony “Tony” LoBianco, who was a highly successful restaurateur for many years. He instilled in his four children a strong work ethic and a passion for hospitality—especially true for Angela and her brother Joseph, who followed LoBianco into the business and, ultimately, to opening their brewery in historic Hyde Park.
So when Tony LoBianco passed away last May, it left a void in their lives that was difficult to fill. “What was crazy about my dad was he could get anybody excited because he loved the industry so much,” Angela shares. “On my down days I would drive to his house and say, ‘All right, I need a pep talk here cause I’m struggling. Today’s going to be a big 13-hour day and I don’t know where I’m gonna find the energy.’ We’d talk, and he’d get so excited it would just come out of his pores. Then he would give me that excitement and I’d be running back to the restaurant. He gave us a lot.”
It all started back in the mid-’90s with…pizza? Indeed, Tony was attending a pizza convention and, when he saw someone making beer there, proclaimed, “Oh my God, we’re not buying it anymore, we need to make it!” And the seeds were sown for a new family-owned brewery and restaurant: Hyde Park Brewing.
First they needed a location, and Angela says her father knew exactly where to look. “He always loved Dutchess County for the farms and the beautiful land here because he was born and raised on a farm in Sicily. So this was near and dear to him.”
Next they needed a head brewer; they found one in John Eccles, who was working at a brewery in Ossining at the time and wanted a change. Eccles was trained in the German style of beermaking—good beer was clear, not cloudy, and ales were “too easy.” He liked complicated lagers that took longer to ferment and to get to the tap.
Over time, Hyde Park Brewing evolved to include ales, session beers, and seasonal fruity beers. Angela even got Eccles to try those dreaded cloudy beers. “He worked here for 23 years, brewing suds for us all that time. By the time he retired, I had him doing some cloudy beers and after he tasted it, he’d say, ‘That’s not bad.’”
The current head brewer, Ryan Gillette, had been to Germany and attended a couple of different brewing schools before coming to Hyde Park. He deftly walks the tightrope between new and traditional, from the ultra-popular Big Easy Blonde and Rough Rider Red to stouts, IPAs, and beer cocktails. Hyde Park Brewing also does growlers and crowlers—cans that are sealed with a machine as they’re filled. Through it all, the brewing process remains true to the company’s roots.
“We’re still old-fashioned. We don’t put anything in our beer but the four ingredients,” Angela says. “We’re not putting something in to rush it; it’s still really non-preservative.” From malt to wort to fermentation to filtering, the handcrafted beers are served at the peak of freshness.
As is the food. “Our menus are developed around the beer—everything and anything, from soup to ice cream. The cheddar lager soup that everybody loves, we can never take that off the menu. People get upset if it’s not here. Our ribs braised in Rough Rider Red, that’s huge. We have pizza. And our ice cream is killer—Big Easy Blonde Blueberry with real blueberries and a vanilla Blonde base.” Hyde Park Brewing also offers the same ice cream dish with strawberries.
Hyde Park Brewing’s new executive chef, Kevin Plamondon, comes from Florida with an extensive Creole, seafood, and barbecue background. The fall menu is going to introduce some of his barbecue favorites, kicking off a series of seasonal menus going forward. But not to worry, Angela assures loyal customers, “many of our favorites are not going away.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about the customers for Angela. “If I can be half of what my dad was, I’ll be happy,” she says. “He loved people; he loved to feed people because he loved to see what their face said. He would look across the room at someone dining and say to me, ‘Watch, watch, watch, watch, watch.’ Special relationships—that’s what it’s all about.”
And what’s in store for the Hyde Park Brewing Company in the next 25 years? “I’m just blessed to be here,” Angela says with her trademark enthusiasm. “We’re blessed to be here and still standing—and God willing, we’ll keep forging ahead.”