BUCHANAN, N.Y. – When the Backyard Grill and Deli opened its doors March 1, it provided Buchanan residents with another lunch and casual dinner option. The further anecdotal evidence of economic recovery comes nine months after the opening of the Taste in Buchanan, a restaurant that has been well received by critics and surrounding residents.
“We don’t sell deli food. We sell restaurant food,” said co-owner Tommy Ciraolo, the former owner of Ossining Pizza on Croton Avenue. His partner is his brother-in-law, Michael Napoletano. The longtime Mohegan residents said they wanted to start a restaurant in their own neighborhood.
The Backyard Grill and Deli opens at 8 a.m. Ciraolo says his signature dish is the “Juicy Lucy,” a half-pound burger formed by two quarter-pound beef patties enclosed around different types of cheese. Backyard also offers deli staples such as sausage and peppers, chicken cutlets in red sauce and a variety of more complex specials, including shrimp and crab stuffed sole.
The new venture is located next door to the Buchanan post office, just a few steps from Buchanan Village Hall, at 250 Tate Ave. The location, which could be described as in tiny Buchanan’s downtown, is haunted by vacant retail and restaurant spaces.
The space next door to Ciraolo, also located at 250 Tate Ave., is vacant, as is 262 Tate Ave. Across the street, 259 Tate Ave. appears vacant, with dusty barstools lining a counter and boxes of beer décor littering the floor. It’s unclear whether these locations are under construction or are not rented.
“It’s a scary thing, because you don’t really know why it’s empty,” said Ciraolo.
First-time customer Celso Torres said, “The previous owner, they left for a couple months.” Take-out-in-hand, Torres said, “Before that other guy came, this store was empty for a while,” referring to the location’s previous restaurateur.
“Really, any business is a nerve-racking opening. But the thing with the restaurant business and the food business is, it’s the highest failure out of any business in the world, and it’s very demanding,” said Alyssa Presta-Campanaro, hostess and co-owner of Taste.
Presta-Campanaro said most of the clientele for her new American menu has developed in Croton and Cortlandt, but she has even drawn customers from Briarcliff and Pleasantville.