It was a sad, sad day when Caffe Macchiato closed its doors at the beginning of January. The beloved community cafe, which had maintained a presence on Newburgh’s Liberty Street for 15 years, saw major growth when Culinary Institute of America grad Jodi Cummings took over three years prior. Due to the burdens of unexpected success, however, Cummings made the difficult decision to close up shop in order to recharge and create more time for herself.
Since those final days of Caffe Macchiato, which closed for good on January 2, 99 Liberty Street has felt a little emptier. As we waited for an announcement about the space’s new tenant, we wondered, What will replace it? Can anything live up to those shrimp and grits and sea salt cookies?
Our worries were for naught. While nothing new is coming to the vacated Newburgh spot, per se, the space will soon play house to one of the city’s most celebrated eateries. Beginning in spring 2019, 99 Liberty Street will be part and parcel of the newly expanded Liberty Street Bistro. That’s right, Hudson Valley. The much beloved new Americana eatery (and Best of Hudson Valley winner) at 97 Liberty is knocking down walls to make diners even more welcome this year.
“The expansion will be what I think is a natural growth into the neighboring space,” explains chef and owner Michael Kelly. Although he only acquired the adjoining property on February 1, he and his team are already hard at work on renovations to it. “It’s been clear for some time now that we would benefit from more space, but it was not until all the uncertainty next door arose that I considered it a feasible opportunity.”
As far as the renovations inside go, diners familiar with Liberty Street’s interior can expect to find a number of changes come springtime. To start, the entrance and the bar will move to 99 Liberty, which will also welcome the addition of seating to the dining room. The design will be complementary to the clean, welcoming schema that is currently at play, although additional lighting and bar equipment will add a fresh touch. To connect the two units, a rear wall will be removed to create a breezeway, Kelly notes. While much of the kitchen area will remain the same, the small addition of square footage at 99 Liberty will become a dedicated beverage area for the bar and coffee service.
In addition, an increase in seating is a major expansion bonus for Kelly and team. Upon completion, the restaurant will see a jump from 44 seats to between 65 and 70. The new lounge area, meanwhile, will hold approximately 12 at the bar and 18 to 25 in the lounge itself.
While the expansion is an undertaking, it’s all part of Kelly’s commitment to the eatery and to Newburgh as a whole.
“Liberty Street in Newburgh is a very exciting place to be right now with lots of new ventures popping up around ever corner,” he enthuses. Indeed, in recent months, the street has welcomed everything from a Velocipede Museum to Kelly’s very own Newburgh Flour Shop bakery, a passion project with his wife, Alexandra.
“I’m excited to see wedding cakes start coming out of Newburgh Flour Shop,” he says of the bakery, which currently specializes in treats like croissants, muffins, and loaves.
Outside of the restaurant scene, Kelly keeps a community focus with his Liberty Street Film Series project, a Newburgh-based screening event in collaboration with the Orange County Arts Council that hosts movies on the last Saturday of the month in summer.
“Those are tons of fun and I really missed it in 2018!” he says.
While the new, improved Liberty Street Bistro won’t be complete until springtime, interested diners can keep an eye on the space — and on the restaurant’s Facebook page — for announcements about the big reveal. Until then, visitors can keep eating in the existing dining room at 97 Liberty and nearby at the Flour Shop at 109 Liberty. Either way, it’s impossible to lack for eating options on the historic Orange County street.