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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

LISA AND STEVE Sauer take a break during their first day on the job at Reilly’s in Cochecton. The local couple took over the old-fashioned ice cream parlor and added a small general store to keep it running throughout the year.

Reilly's Is Resurrected

By Jeanne Sager
COCHECTON — November 5, 2002 – Reilly’s is back in business.
Purchased a few months ago by Steve and Lisa Sauer of Cochecton, the shop – once one of two general stores in the hamlet – reopened Friday morning to a booming business.
Just hours after unlocking the doors on the old building in Cochecton’s downtown, the Sauers were already worn out from a day of serving up sandwiches and ringing up cartons of milk or loaves of bread.
But it’s already well worth it, said Lisa.
“I’m flattered so many people stopped by,” she said, taking a break mid-afternoon as the lunch crowd thinned out. “I’m happy that it was so well-received.”
But the Sauers need not worry that folks would pass by the open doors of Reilly’s.
The shop has long been a summer destination for folks looking to sample one of Reilly’s 26 hand-dipped flavors in the old-fashioned ice cream parlor and peruse the local artifacts kept in the adjoining museum.
It was always a dream for Bob and Mary Ann White, both area residents, to open up their ice cream shop and have a gallery on the side.
They accomplished that in the early 1990s, just a few years after purchasing the building from the original Reilly family (which ran the store up until Frank Reilly died in 1957).
Along with the purchase of the building, the Whites inherited an inventory from 1929 of the original general store’s contents and dozens of other pieces of local history.
Taking Mary Ann’s art and the hundreds of artifacts gathered from Catherine Reilly’s apartment and other local residents, they set up a museum for folks to browse through after filling up on some wholesome ice cream.
It was a dream of a lifetime, but the Whites were slowing down in recent years, and they decided it was time to sell.
So now it’s the Sauers’ turn to mold the store into a spot for Cochecton’s residents to gather.
“It’s their show,” White said. “And they’re good folks.
“There’s nothing like being young and ambitious,” he added with a laugh.
But the Sauers say they couldn’t have done it without Bob and Mary Ann.
“Everything here is because of them,” Lisa said. “Yes, we bought it and made some changes, but if they hadn’t done it, it wouldn’t be here.”
The Sauers have converted one section of the museum into a general store, serving up fresh sandwiches and selling the basics – from candy and soda to toilet paper and cold cuts.
They’re working on setting up a small grill that will serve breakfast and lunch daily – hamburgers and grilled cheese, pancakes and bacon.
The museum pieces have all been saved by Bob and will be moved to a back section of the store so folks can still wander the aisles of history after filling their bellies with ice cream.
And the parlor is set to open on Memorial Day – following a similar schedule to the Whites.
“We always loved Reilly’s,” Lisa noted. “We loved to come here, we loved the nostalgia.”
When the store went up on the market, the Sauers felt they could carry on a tradition by taking over.
“It was sort of our mission to keep their dream alive,” Lisa explained.
The couple live in Cochecton with their children, Maegan, 13; Austin, 10; and Cassidy, 7, all students at Sullivan West/Delaware Valley. Lisa will be on the premises running the family’s insurance business while Steve mans Reilly’s much of the time.
“We’re really, truly neighbors,” Lisa explained. “We’re not some city slickers who came up and bought this from some country people.”
There’s a place for the Manhattanites opening businesses in the county, she added, but she and Steve have an advantage when it comes to running a general store.
They already know everyone, and they know the role Reilly’s has always played in the community.
And they’re looking to stay in the Cochecton community.
“It’s fun to go to the city and see a show,” Lisa explained, “but, especially as you get older and have kids, what matters is not if you’re five minutes from a McDonald’s but that your kids can play outside.
“Why did we buy it?” she continued. “We both grew up here, and we don’t want to go anywhere else.
“We love Cochecton, we love Reilly’s,” Lisa added. “We love that this is a piece of history, it’s not a 7-Eleven.
“It’s sort of bringing the old to the new.”
The new version of Reilly’s, she added, will have all the comforts of the old-fashioned shop with all the conveniences of a modern store.
Even the decor is focused on the old merchandise from the original Reilly’s shop, in keeping with the store’s history.
White hopes to see the Sauers succeed in their new venture. It’s a service the community needs, he explained.
“Without a little store, you’re absolutely lost, if just for some place to get a cup of coffee or go get the morning gossip.” he said. “Every little town has one.
“It’s going to be good,” he added with confidence.
The new store will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. The grill will open in a few weeks, serving breakfast and lunch through mid-afternoon.
During the summer, hours will be extended to accommodate the ice cream crowd. Depending on the weather, Lisa said, the parlor and museum should be open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
For more information, or to find out Lisa’s specials at the grill, call 932-8298.

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