The distinct menu at Trumansburg’s Creekside Café is a product of patience and dedication, just like the magnificent Finger Lakes gorges fashioned by hard-working creeks like the one that runs behind the Café.
Creekside’s home, a historic brick building sits in the center of the village of Trumansburg, tucked between the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. The Café’s owners, Charlie Stadtlander and Cathryn Koken, purchased the building in 2007 from Larry Reverby and while sustaining the Trumansburg institution Sundrees, planned the transformation of the ground floor into what’s now the Creekside Café, offering gourmet breakfasts and lunches with a distinct mix of international allure and local delight.
Charlie lived most of his life in northern New Jersey, raised within sight of the Empire State Building by Francophile parents who were devotees of Julia Child. Charlie took this homespun approach to cuisine to the raising of his own three sons in New Jersey’s cultural crossroads, where patchwork cuisines of the world meet at every corner. Years later, Charlie showed Cathy the region’s trademark Italian imports, sandwich delicatessens, and early-morning breakfast oases, and it sparked the dream of Creekside Café.
Cathy’s history in the Finger Lakes is legendary. Hailing from Lyons, NY where her German grandmother taught her a love of food, she spent her early working summers catering parties in the Hamptons. But Cathy came back to the “Real New York” and was a partner and chef at Ithaca’s renowned Café DeWitt for over fifteen years while raising two girls of her own in Trumansburg. After DeWitt, Cathy managed the internationally famous Ithaca Farmer’s Market until 2013 when she answered the call of the kitchen again at the Creekside.
Her years of growing entwined with the Finger Lakes food producers taught her and Charlie that there was no need to import the Italian delicacies they dreamed of dishing out in Trumansburg. The raw materials of a world-class culinary culture are all available locally: artisanal rustic bread, singular cured meats, bountiful local produce and a community hungry for a place to gather and feast.
Charlie brought his three decades of experience as a master carpenter and project manager to the Creekside building’s renovation – first concentrating on a redesigned and reconstructed two-story apartment above the Café before digging in to the creation of the rustic, glass-fronted refuge that now welcomes Trumansburg locals and visitors alike.
The institutions of the Finger Lakes – warm welcomes, rich bounty from the local soil, sturdy traditions and intrepid newcomers – are all present in the Creekside Café. And like the steady, enduring Trumansburg Creek that gives the eatery its name, the Café rumbles on, opening its doors to all that seek a bite of what committed locals have to offer.