Delhi restaurateur Jonah Shaw, 47, has returned to his roots with the recent reopening of the Quarter Moon Cafe at 53 Main St. in the village.
Shaw launched the restaurant, which offers innovative American-style fare, in 2003, but closed it to focus on other culinary pursuits.
“I ran it for a long time as a restaurant, then started doing a lot of catering and consulting,” he said. “We slowed as the catering and event business took off and … in 2012, we launched Catskill Food Company, which produces artisanal meat products.”
Though the 50-seat restaurant site hosted “pop-up” eateries in the intervening years, Shaw said, his meat production inspired its reopening as the Quarter Moon Cafe.
“This past winter we built our own USDA processing room in the back of the building,” he said, “and because of all the equipment and staff needed on site for that, we decided it would make sense to reopen the restaurant. It was a natural outlet … but most importantly, I missed having a restaurant open and thought it was time to breathe new life into the space.”
The Quarter Moon Cafe reopened Memorial Day Weekend with about 15 part-time employees, Shaw said.
The restaurant’s menu, Shaw said, reflects its inspiration.
“We are calling our menu smoke-centric, because the meat processing room really revolves around a very technically advanced smoker that we imported from Germany,” he said. “We are not only smoking meats that you might expect, like briskets, but we’re smoking cream to make our own smoked ice cream and crème brulee. We have an FDA permit as well, so we’ll be introducing a line of smoked fish and cheeses.”
Shaw said the menu also exemplifies his evolving food philosophy, balancing local production with the practical demands of diners and rural restaurant ownership.
“Our focus is on locally available ingredients,” he said. “Recently, we brought in a whole cow from Catskill Cattle Company in Deposit, so we are working through various steaks on the menu. While it’s important to me to promote local products and work with local producers, it’s also important to me to offer a range of menu items across various price points.
“We’re serving steaks from this cow, but we also have brisket and pulled pork that we serve so much of we can’t source it all locally; there’s only a limited amount of brisket on one cow,” he said. “It’s altruistic to say that you’re only using local ingredients, but I think it’s important to make good, quality food available to everyone and be able to offer affordable menu items. We do have an expensive steak that is $65, but every other menu item is well under $20 and there aren’t very many restaurants in this area that can say that.”
Early favorites, Shaw said, include his wedge salad, featuring lettuce from Star Route Farm; ramp pesto with homemade pasta; the “super-popular” brisket and pulled pork; and “Nashkill” chicken drumsticks.
“That’s a play on Nashville hot chicken, but we make it Catskill style,” he said. “We smoke it first instead of using a buttermilk brine.”
Shaw said the restaurant’s clientele is a mix of new and returning diners.
“It’s across the spectrum. We have families with kids coming in, young people with second homes up here, there’s been a lot of local foot traffic and we had an existing base from our old email lists,” he said. “The feedback from people that have been in has been outstanding and we have a lot of regulars already.”
As the Quarter Moon Cafe re-establishes itself, Shaw said, he hopes to introduce theme nights.
“We have plans for a whiskey explorers’ club, a fried chicken night and a food industry night for farmers, producers and people in hospitality,” he said. “And we’re having jazz nights the first and third Monday of the month.”
The Quarter Moon Cafe is open for lunch and dinner, Thursday through Monday.
For more information, to view a menu or make reservations, call 607-746-8886, find “Quarter Moon Cafe” on Facebook or visit quartermooncafe.com.