Sharon Space-Bamberger | Democrat
Stuart Weitz shows off a pan containing four full orders of his uniquely sauced pork ribs. The ribs will be slow cooked in a low oven until they “melt in your mouth and mess up your hands.”
Munson Diner reborn, with new name
Story by Sharon Space-Bamberger
LIBERTY Liberty’s Munson Diner recently reopened with a new owner. But, don’t call it the Munson; it’s now Stu’s Lake Street Diner.
Owner Stuart Weitz explained, “If I had a cruise ship I wouldn’t call it the ‘Titanic’! I’m not going to build on the Munson legend either. That ‘Seinfeld’ stuff is old, that show’s been off the air for years. Besides, the diner was only in four episodes.”
The venerable Munson, which was moved from Hells Kitchen in NYC to Liberty by flatbed in 2005, opened in November of 2007. There were problems from the start, including inadequate parking, inconsistent interior climate, and uneven cuisine and service as it went through several owners.
Weitz has scrubbed down the greasy kitchen and the heating system now works. It’s a no-frills place. Nothing has been done about décor. Weitz has future plans for “soft Tiffany lighting,” but right now he needs an ice machine. He is realistic, “This is a difficult project, considering the four owners who didn’t’ make it. This is a real challenge.”
In preparation for his new venture, Weitz watched TV. “I’ve watched about a hundred episodes of ‘Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins.’ I learned that when a restaurant has everything not all of it is good, so I have a limited menu,” he noted.
But, what is good at Stu’s Diner is very good. The uniquely flavored slow cooked ribs stick to your ribs, the hamburgers are top quality, and the wings are big and meaty. Don’t expect side dishes you get a slab of corn bread with the ribs.
Many customers of Weitz’ old restaurant Stu’s Kitchen across from the burned out Grandview Palace are now eating at Stu’s Diner. The restaurateur knows why they follow him.
“I always bought the best food. If you buy the best and you cook with love people recognize it.,” Weitz said. “My ribs and my chicken wings are slow cooked. Students from the college used to drive miles for my hamburgers. They are fresh Angus beef, not frozen.”
Jim Tisch of Frost Valley YMCA recently ordered chicken wings. He exclaimed to Stu, “We’re glad you’re back! We put up fliers all over the place.” Tisch told another customer at the counter, “Frost Valley staff used to drive from Claryville to Stu’s Kitchen in Loch Sheldrake to pick up full racks of ribs and dozens of chicken wings. On Tuesday nights we’d get 4-5 orders of ribs and chicken wings and share them.”
The customers keep coming, both old and new.
Stu Alexander of Neversink was a Stu’s Kitchen chicken wing fan. “It broke my heart when he closed,” he said.
Joe McCarthy of the Liberty Trading Post took some of his half order of ribs home.“These ribs are outstanding, I was full before I was halfway through!” he said.
Stu promises, “Home inspired good food. By summer, we will have central air conditioning, [so] no more too hot or too cold.”
About the diner…
Stu’s Lake Street Diner is on the corner of Main and Lake Street in Liberty. Open 7 days a week, current hours are 9:30 a.m.9 p.m. Hours will change when a new cook is added. Chicken wings are cooked to order. Call ahead at 292-5000 if you are in a hurry for eat in or take out.