By Allison Collins
BAINBRIDGE – In the spirit of spring and after a seven-year hiatus, Bainbridge native Stephanie Soldinger is bringing her business, The Cream of the Crop at the Old Red Barn, back to life.
The rustic, country-chic eatery situated on 5.5 picturesque Chenango County acres will open for breakfast and lunch beginning April 3. The barn is located at 2652 state Highway 7.
Soldinger said reopening will not only fuel her passion, but also fill a need in the Bainbridge community.
“My family has always been in the restaurant business,” she said. “I was born and raised (in Bainbridge) and I’ve been there my whole life, but there’s really not a lot of places to eat around here. A lot of my customers kept approaching me, saying, ‘When are you going to open again?’ People loved it, so it was kind of because of my customers that I opted to do this again.”
She added, “I wanted to give the community more options.”
The café menu will feature homemade fare: French toast and cinnamon rolls, soups and breads, desserts, salads and sandwiches, including, Soldinger said, her “famous Reuben sandwich that people just absolutely love.”
Opening day, Soldinger noted, will kick off with a cream of asparagus soup as the lunchtime special.
Soldinger noted that her mother and former café manager will join her in the kitchen most weekends.
Alongside old favorites, Soldinger said, customers can look forward to recent renovations.
Citing a one-of-a-kind, 200-year-old barn board bar as an example of improvements, she said, “The interior is all brand-new.”
Soldinger said she plans to offer catering and wedding services once re-established.
Complementing the café, Soldinger said, will be the returning gift shop, for which she is seeking vendors.
“She said, “There’s going to be candles, homemade soaps and homemade lotions and primitives – different stuff and stuff that’s unique.” Soldinger said she is hoping to get about 15 vendors and encouraged interested local artisans to contact her at 967-BARN.
Outside, Soldinger said, diners will again be able to enjoy the “absolutely spectacular view” from the covered café porch, once fairer weather arrives.
More so than returning to the kitchen, Soldinger said, she is eager to renew and deepen bonds with her devoted clientele.
“I am a people person,” she said, “and I thoroughly enjoy my customers. Over the years, I’ve become so attached to these people that I think of them as my family. There are so many previous customers that I keep in touch with … and they’ve all been very anxious for me to get back open again.”
The Cream of the Crop at the Old Red Barn will be open Tuesday through Sunday, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call the aforementioned number or stop by during business hours.
“Be sure to pick up this week’s edition at a store near you! Or for the latest local news, call or e-mail us today to arrange convenient home delivery each and every week.”