Like the haunting sound of the train whistle in the distance, the defunct rail station in Woodstock called out to Lily Korolkoff and Ben Rollins. Though the couple, both lighting designers and electricians by trade, were living some 100 miles away in New York City, they became obsessed by the idea of turning the spot into a cool bar and restaurant centered in the self-proclaimed “most famous small town in the world.”
The circa-1900 building was once a stop on the old Ulster and Delaware rail line. Formerly located in and known as Brown’s Station, the abandoned depot was rescued by a local resident and moved to Tinker Street, where it served as a hair salon and office before sitting vacant again. When Korolkoff and Rollins were passing through on holiday last year and spotted a “for rent” sign, they jumped aboard and quickly brought the building up to speed.
The two opened Station Bar & Curio this past June, bringing in friend Mark Landsman as a partner, and leaving their city lives behind. It may sound impulsive, but the young couple walked into the business with eyes wide open. “We knew what we are getting into to some degree,” says Korolkoff. “My mom used to tend bar in Manhattan and I was with her a lot.”
Like mother, like daughter: You’ll now find Korolkoff behind the bar dispensing New York State brews from a 1920s radiator that’s been revamped as an eight-tap draft tower. “We bought it at an auction in Saugerties. It was made in Albany, which is kind of cool,” says Korolkoff, a Fleischmanns native whose fondness for Catskill memorabilia is reflected in the restaurant’s decor. “We’ve been trying to fill every niche with interesting things, a lot of it donated by the community.”
Bits of stained glass, old maps, railroad timetables, and the work of local artists are also featured in the spot’s moody, dappled lighting — the perfect setting to dig into what Korolkoff calls the “revamped comfort food” the spot is serving alongside its locally focused cocktail menu. A few standout offerings luring in patrons include hearty chilis, chowders, beef tongue sandwiches with house-made herbed gremolata, and grilled butternut squash panini, all made fresh daily by Chef Kyle Waltz.
Outside, on a winterized patio, vintage TV studio lights illuminate a stage for weekly performances that the partners are determined to hold, even as the mercury plunges. “We’re just trying to figure out how to keep the vibe going for the community all winter long,” says Korolkoff. “It’s like throwing a party every week.”
101 Tinker St., Woodstock
Open until 2 a.m. daily