The historic Hudson River village of Athens dates back to one of the earliest European settlers in Upstate New York. Now, some 337 years after Jan Van Loon purchased his land in 1685, the village is teeming with great places to meet, eat, and shop as you stroll along Second Street with a great view of the river. Residents and visitors alike enjoy uniquely approachable amenities and one-of-a-kind offerings you simply can’t find anywhere else.
In her New York Times article of September 28th, Karen Angel described Athens as “A perfect combination of Old and New on the Hudson.” Filled with Victorian, Greek Revival, and Federal style homes (not to mention the two Van Loon ‘Dutch’ cottages from the early 18th century) the village has all the charm of an historic neighborhood that buzzes with activity during the warmer months. Creative energy exudes across an eclectic mix of local business run by both born-and-bred locals and relatively recent transplants. Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find.
Facing each other on the west side of Franklin Street, are great ways to both start and end your day.
The Athens Rooster serves breakfast, lunch and coffee in a cozy cucina-like space. Everything is freshly prepared onsite, from muffins, croissants and cookies, to paninis, salads and artisan pizza. Friends and families find it a great place to roost, experiencing community, comfort, and coffee. It is truly a place for people to come together and be fueled by simple joys.
Later in the day (and into the evening) you’ll find everybody heading to Crossroads Brewing Company for libations and great comfort foods. Located in the renovated Brooks Opera House since 2009, this original brewpub is home to a 7-barrel brew house and 10 busy taps. As the Crossroads brand gained notoriety and acclaim, the business expanded its main brewing operation to a former newspaper print house just down the road in the Village of Catskill in 2017. Accolades run the gamut from multiple TAP NY awards to Best Restaurant in Greene County to Best Mac & Cheese in the Capital Region!
Heading East toward the river, you’ll be drawn through the Catskill Bread Company’s doors and experience some the most captivating crusts you’ll ever taste. “Good bread takes time” is the mantra of owner/operator Dan ‘The Bread Man’ Kirkus who naturally ferments all of his breads, bagels & pastries with his own sourdough starter – “Made 5 years ago with just flour, water, and Catskill air.” Favorites include baguette, mini and large focaccia, cinnamon rolls and amazing sandwich breads with names such as ‘The Earl’, ‘The Swede’, ‘The Empire’ and ‘The Twain’. Originally founded in the Village of Catskill, this new Second Street home in Athens a perfect fit with the village vibe.
You’ll never be able to limit yourself to one dish at Seconds where Chef Salah tempts the palate with incomparable, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Starters like Burrata & Arugula with roasted red pepper and basil pesto, and Almond Encrusted Goat Cheese with roasted garlic and wine-poached pear make your mouth water just reading them on the menu. Then its on to entrees including Moroccan Salmon, Pan-seared Rack of Lamb, and the signature Figgy Piggy (a pork tenderloin stuffed with figs in red wine sauce) all made fresh ‘with love’ – as Chef puts it. Resident mixologist Denise McConnell crafts amazing signature cocktails, including arguably the best Negroni on the planet!
Just around the corner from Seconds, you’ll come upon Lighthouse Liquors (and Wines) with its curated collection of potent potables from across the region and around the world. Its name tips a hat to the iconic 1874 Hudson-Athens Lighthouse which is on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as viewable from down the street. Lighthouse even has an app you can use to browse their offerings, place orders for pick-up, and earn loyalty rewards.
Crossing over Washington Street (NYS-385) the idyllic Stewart House comes up on your right. The Italianate-style boarding house turned boutique hotel has been meticulously restored with a fresh perspective, striking a balance between luxury and comfort. An Art Deco bar, farm-to-table tavern, and waterfront grill complement nine elegantly appointed guest rooms. Framed by majestic willow trees, this architectural gem graces the riverfront just to the north of the village park.
But before heading to the Athens Riverfront Park, you’ll want to stop at Stella’s II Pizzeria & Pancake House, a local favorite open from 7am to 9pm every single day. Aside from the items in its name, Stella’s has a full menu of Italian-American favorites to eat there, or take away. Maybe a picnic in the park?
The Athens Riverfront Park is a great place to end this stroll. A ferry service shuttles passengers between Hudson and this landing on weekends and offers tours of the Lighthouse. Every July, The Athens Street Festival draws around 15,000 attendees to stalls throughout the park, and a concert and film series runs all summer long.
Every community in Greene County has its own unique personality, and there’s no better way to find it for yourself, than supporting our local Main (in this case, Second) Street businesses.
To find more stories on great Greene County businesses, follow our blog on BuyInGreene.com.