Bradstan curtain coming down
Its been a great ride
By FRITZ MAYER
WHITE LAKE, NY Stop by the Bradstan Hotel on a Saturday morning, and it would be hard to guess that the owners of the business that brought piano bar and cabaret to White Lake are seeking a buyer. Guests are busy enjoying breakfast, and the place looks like a picture-perfect weekend getaway.
But after owning the buildings since 1985, and operating the piano bar since 1991, owners Scott Samuelson and Eddie Dudek have put out the for sale sign.
There are several reasons for the sale. Samuelson, who used to work just a few minutes away as director of sales at The Chapin Estate, recently took a new full-time job with a developer in Bloomingburg, which is further away. That leaves Dudek to perform the lions share of chores at the establishment, which are many.
Asked if he would prefer the new owner to follow the tradition theyve established, Samuelson said, Obviously the ultimate dream would be somebody who would come in, and feel the same spirit and want to do the same thing, but you know that landscape is very different than when we first opened.
He also said, however, that the area has become the restaurant capital of Sullivan County. He ticked off the competition good-naturedly. Weve got the Front Porch, weve got Fat Lady, weve got Bubbas, weve got Benji and Jakes, weve got R&B, weve got the Boat House, weve got The Lighthouse, weve got Friends and now weve got River Edge.
Like the Bradstan, many of them offer entertainment along with food. When we first opened, we were the only game in town, and we didnt think about it, we just were. And we were sort of a gathering place for the community, and it was great.
For 18 years, patrons were treated to two types of performances, the less formal piano-bar style, and the more soloist-oriented cabaret shows.
Samuelson, who spent six years as a singing waiter in New York City, was the first person to perform in the piano bar. In an interview that brought more than a few laughs, he said, I brought my pianist from there, hed come up every week, and I was the bartender. We didnt know what was going to happen, we were just going to give it a shot. Id make a few drinks and Id run up there and sing a few songs. My pianists wife was helping as a cocktail waitress; we were just winging it.
Other musicians heard about the space, Samuelson said, and in 1992, Jeanne MacDonald was the first soloist to play on their stage in a cabaret performance.
From there, the Bradstan grew and attracted the top names in cabaret, and continued the piano bar tradition as well. All the while, however, like many other local entrepreneurs, Samuelson and Dudek sought income from outside the inn to supplement the operation.
Samuel said, Its sort of how people do business in Sullivan County: you do what you love for your business, but then you go somewhere else for money to pay the bills.
For a while the partners were Christmas decorators, he said. We would do showrooms in the Toy Building on Fifth Avenue, we would do private homes, restaurants. It was great because it happened in our off-season. They made a lot of money, but that changed too. The Toy Fair became almost nothing at all. The whole thing became different. People started doing all of their shows in China.
And change is coming to the Bradstan too; but the piano bar and cabaret shows will go on through the end of November.
For a list of the remaining cabaret performances visit bradstancountryhotel.com or call 845/583-4114. See page 11C for information on this weeks show.