By Fred Stabbert III
ROCK HILL After 47 years of treating every customer “like friends and family,” the Weinstein family closed “Bernie’s Holiday Restaurant” last week.
“The deal on Bernie’s closed last Friday and the Resnicks started work the next morning at 7:15,” said Jay Weinstein, who started working at his father’s restaurant when he was 13.
The new owners Butch and Randy Resnick of Resnick Supermarket Equipment in Mountaindale have big plans for the famous restaurant located on Rock Hill Drive, overlooking Route 17.
“We plan on opening a restaurant and catering hall,” Randy said yesterday morning amid a flurry of construction. “We also plan to add one retail location which might be an upscale coffee shop.”
That would fit nicely with one of the Resnick’s other ventures, The Coffee Factory, which roasts and flavors gourmet coffees from its plant in Mountaindale.
“We are shooting to be open in 90 days,” Randy said. “This is a great building, these are just cosmetic changes.”
Included in the plans are a 180-seat catering hall which will have a private room for the bride and groom as well as private restrooms and an outdoor wrap-a-round patio and gazebo.
“Everything will be new and very chic,” Randy said. “In addition, we will have a 100-seat dining room.”
Currently, 10 carpenters are busy “gutting” the current building, from the bar to the bathrooms, kitchen to the restaurant.
As lumber trucks pulled up outside, one crew was busy offloading material while another worked at dismantling a floor.
Randy said the purchase of Bernie’s had significant meaning to him and his family.
“My family grew up here,” he said. “We had birthday parties here and were ‘Bernie’s babies.
“Our kids became ‘Bernie’s babies, too,’” he said with a smile. “This wasn’t a business deal it was a family deal.”
When fully operational, Randy said the new restaurant, catering hall and retail store will employ 25 people.
What a History!
The Resnicks bought more than a restaurant they bought a piece of history.
“We watched so many families grow up here,” Jay and wife Shelley said yesterday morning. “We knew four generations (of some families).”
Jay’s parents, Bernie and Joy, began the restaurant in 1964 and soon became a place where weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, birthday parties and night outs were the norm.
“My father said we never had customers only friends and family,” Jay said. “Only one restaurant has been here longer, The Homestead, and they are still open.”
But Jay remembers the famous faces which passed through Bernie’s doors.
“Neil Sedaka was an excellent customer and he would come here with his daughter,” he said. “Once in a while we would pull out the piano and he would sit down and play.
“Cousin Brucie was a regular. I still have his phone number on my cell,” Jay laughed. “Mickey Mantle, Walt Frazier, LT (Lawrence Taylor), George Carlin and Ron Cox would also stop by,” he said. “But our famous people were are the local people.”
Families like the Breskys of Fallsburg and Resnicks of Mountaindale, who always had to stop at Bernie’s.
Jay remembers the bygone era fondly.
“When the hotels started going down things started to change,” he said. “The county has changed quite a bit.
“We were a big part of the community,” he said. “It’s sad. I have very mixed emotions, many different feelings.
“The economics was a determining factor,” he said. “It was time.”
And as one chapter closes on an historic eatery, one is getting ready to begin.