By Jeanne Sager
COCHECTON November 5, 2002 Reillys 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 Cochectons 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 its already well worth it, said Lisa.
Im flattered so many people stopped by, she said, taking a break mid-afternoon as the lunch crowd thinned out. Im happy that it was so well-received.
But the Sauers need not worry that folks would pass by the open doors of Reillys.
The shop has long been a summer destination for folks looking to sample one of Reillys 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 stores contents and dozens of other pieces of local history.
Taking Mary Anns art and the hundreds of artifacts gathered from Catherine Reillys 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 its the Sauers turn to mold the store into a spot for Cochectons residents to gather.
Its their show, White said. And theyre good folks.
Theres nothing like being young and ambitious, he added with a laugh.
But the Sauers say they couldnt 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 hadnt done it, it wouldnt 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.
Theyre 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 Reillys, 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 familys insurance business while Steve mans Reillys much of the time.
Were really, truly neighbors, Lisa explained. Were not some city slickers who came up and bought this from some country people.
Theres 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 Reillys has always played in the community.
And theyre looking to stay in the Cochecton community.
Its 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 youre five minutes from a McDonalds but that your kids can play outside.
Why did we buy it? she continued. We both grew up here, and we dont want to go anywhere else.
We love Cochecton, we love Reillys, Lisa added. We love that this is a piece of history, its not a 7-Eleven.
Its sort of bringing the old to the new.
The new version of Reillys, 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 Reillys shop, in keeping with the stores history.
White hopes to see the Sauers succeed in their new venture. Its a service the community needs, he explained.
Without a little store, youre 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.
Its 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 Lisas specials at the grill, call 932-8298.