Tim Masterjohn, owner of the Red Caboose, did not come to Oneonta to open a restaurant, but found himself compelled to do just that.
Masterjohn had opened restaurants in California and Washington, D.C. He was anticipating leaving the food service industry when he and his wife, Hannah Masterjohn, moved to her hometown, Oneonta.
“We did not move here to open a restaurant,” Masterjohn said. “I was going to get out of the industry. But then this location came open, and the chef I had worked with in Washington called me and said he was looking to get back to New York.”
The location at 214 Main St., with a patio and ample space, was alluring to Masterjohn. He sealed the deal and opened the Red Caboose in the summer of 2012 with his partner, chef Eric Fleischer.
The dining experience at The Red Caboose reflects Oneonta history, with a train motif and farm-to-table menu choices.
“I support the local history,” Masterjohn said. “The railroad history here is kind of dying, but it is why Oneonta is on the map. We wanted to honor that.”
On the Red Caboose website has a shout-out to the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen who, in 1883, gathered in a small caboose and began what would become the largest railroad workers union in the world.
The Red Caboose menu features choices that include ingredients from local farms. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, pickles, cheeses, ice cream, butter and eggs, as well as eco-friendly beef, naturally raised pork, farm-raised venison and free-range chicken are all bought locally and used in the recipes at the restaurant.
All of the food is prepared under Fleischer’s supervision.
Fleischer was trained in Michelin Star restaurants in Paris and has worked in New York City, San Francisco and Washington.