Aug 23, 2010 ellen leahy Uncategorized
A continuous cycle of hard work, hospitality and charity centered on good food:
“I didn’t lose a wife, I lost a partner,” Larry Loveless said of his wife Jan’s passing, “we were together 24/7 except for when she was in the hospital having a baby.”
Finding a roommate can be difficult.
Finding a reliable business partner; that’s not easy.
Finding a successful life partner, well, after the law of attraction, there is compromise, trust, deep love, hard work, good sense, timing and a lot of luck along the way.
Now find a partner that seamlessly fills all these roles; that’s rare. But that’s exactly what Larry and Jan Loveless developed in their nearly 50 years together as husband and wife, business partners, parents and good friends. They were married for 46-years (this September), and before that together for two years meeting at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks.
“This was the plan,” Larry said of his recent sale of their three properties on W. Genesee Street in the village of Skaneateles that includes the Krebs Restaurant. “I’m just upset Jan isn’t here to enjoy it.”
What were they going to do?
Get in the car and go rustle up some fun, Larry said. “We’d never had a summer off together.”
But now Larry is winding down his last season at the landmark restaurant without her. His last day will be Sunday Oct. 17.
The Krebs, the Perkins, The Loveless Family
Fred Perkins lived across the street from Fred and Cora Krebs. The story goes that young Perkins went over to Krebs for a dish of ice cream one day and never left. He liked the action at the restaurant and the Krebs liked him. So much so that when his parents decided to move to Geneva, and asked if Perkins could stay with the Krebs until they got settled, the Krebs readily agreed.
Larry said they came back 15 years later.
Perkins was staying put by then -a fixture in the operation, a trusted employee. The Krebs didn’t have children of their own, so when they died they passed the restaurant on to Perkins, who married Eloise Benedict. They also did not have children.
Larry met Eloise and Fred Perkins at about the same age as when Perkins met the Krebs. Larry’s mom, Laura Loveless was the hostess at Krebs for 57 years. Larry claims he also came over for a dish of ice cream while his mother was working one day, and never left.
Training in the Adirondacks
The first things Larry packed to go off to Paul Smith College up in the Adirondacks to major in hospitality, were his rifles and fishing gear. Being an avid sportsman, Larry loved the Adirondacks. Perhaps his best catch was Jan, a young coed majoring in Liberal Arts. She was one of 17 girls on a campus of 750 young men.
“Talk about having to look over your shoulder,” Larry said.
Back in Skaneateles
Just because Jan became Mrs. Larry Loveless didn’t mean anything in regard to her working status at Krebs. She started in the laundry and worked her way up to waitress and then to the position of hostess, said longtime employee Jackie Truswell.
“I was 13 years old when Jan came to Skaneateles with Larry,” Jackie said. “I miss her terribly.”
Larry said that up until Jan’s untimely death last month, there had been a Loveless hostessing at the Krebs for more than 75 years.
“My mother didn’t speak to me for a couple of months when I finally had to retire her,” Larry said.
The back and the front of the house
In true restaurant form, the Mr. and Mrs. Loveless divided their responsibilities. Jan ran the front of the house (the service), and Larry operated the back of the house (the kitchen).
“She couldn’t par-boil food for a tramp,” Larry said of his wife when they first got together. “But over the years she became a good cook.”
Jan always let Larry know exactly who was in the restaurant, where they were sitting and what they were ordering.
“We took care of people like that,” he said, “We catered to the individual as a team.”
And after each shift, they talked shop together — and never once went to bed mad.
“We simply had a good relationship,” Larry said.
A whisky box full of cards
It was reported that Larry sold the three W. Genesee Street properties totaling 2.46 acres for $1,050,000 (not including he contents). He didn’t really know the exact figures or whom he was really selling it to — he just knew it was their plan, his and Jan’s.
So, when he closes this October, he will also be leaving their home.
“How could I live next door?” he said.
Larry loves to bake and work with wood; he’s made several of the tables and chairs you see at the Krebs. As already mentioned, he’s an avid sportsman, and a civil war buff, too. So he’s not worried about having something to occupy his time; his only regret is that Jan won’t be able to enjoy this time they had planned to take together. He’ll probably go back to their winter retreat in Aruba, and again make his home in Skaneateles, as this is where all his friends live. He is one of Skaneateles Central School’s class of 1961 seniors, meaning he went all the way through Skaneateles schools.
“I’m a native,” Larry said. “Jan said I’m the reason they had to remove those new stop signs on Fennell Street, I just couldn’t remember they were there.”
Larry said he grew up before TV was so prevalent. He was a member of Cub Scout Pack 161 and played baseball in the lot behind where the Byrne Dairy is now (the site of the former Skaneateles Boat Company).
“We ran around like Jack rabbits,” he said.
Larry packed up a whiskey box full of the sympathy cards that arrived for Jan (although, these are still arriving). He had read each one before sending them off to his daughter, Kim Seabury in Old Chatam. He said he directed her to read them and then send them on to her sister Lori Gray in Orlando, and then for Lori to burn them.
Krebs Act IV
It would be hard for the late Jan Loveless to not approve of her husband’s recent sale of their Krebs Restaurant, as it was their plan and also the new owners want to continue the tradition of Krebs as a restaurant — after $1,800,000 renovation.
Adam and Kim Weitsman, new residents in Skaneateles with a house on West Lake Street, are interested in holding onto traditions that make their new home charming. Krebs is one of those traditions.
The Weitsmans got together with their summertime neighbor and nationally known restaurateur Phil Romano to devise a plan for Kreb’s evolution.
A hint of Romano
Romano is an Auburn native, who first came to the village of Skaneateles wanting to locate a restaurant he was building with his sister, Rosalie, in the house where the retail operation Pomodoro resides. The village planning board at that time dragged their feet. Not to be deterred Romano purchased land in the town up Genesee Street and built the freestanding Rosalie’s Cucina from the ground up. His sister Rosalie became ill with cancer and passed away before she could really run the operation that bears her name. Romano sold the business to Gary Robinson, the manager that helped him open the operation.
Romano also inspired the late John Angyal in his Johnny Angel’s Heavenly Burgers on Jordan Street that Bill Lynn owns and operates today.
Romano is also the author of Food For Thought a very engaging look at his life and times in the food industry.
“I think that the preservation of The Krebs is very important for the people of Skaneateles and any help I can give Adam in accomplishing this I will be doing,” Romano said.
“We saw The Krebs as a challenge to save what has become an institution in the Finger Lakes Region while reinvigorating the restaurant into a world-class, sustainable, profitable enterprise with a philanthropic mission. We are not going to take one dollar out of the business. All net profits will be shared among Onondaga County food banks and other charities. Even if the business isn’t profitable, we will donate a minimum of $100,000 dollars a year to feed the hungry and help children. But we will work our hardest to deliver a much larger contribution!” Adam Weitsman said.
Larry Loveless’s daughter, Lori Loveless Gray, commented on the transaction.
“I am very happy for my dad to take his retirement. When I heard that the Weitsman’s were going to buy, renovate and donate the profits to food banks I was very excited. I think it’s wonderful and a very generous thing to do. To have the Krebs name is a huge honor and what he is going to do with the profits is just fantastic. I was just overwhelmed hearing what he was going to do with it.”
She echoes the sentiments of a lot of longtime Skaneateles residents upon hearing the news of their beloved Krebs.
Gary Robinson, Rosalie’s Cucina owner-operator, was named as the new general manager of The Krebs.
“I am very excited about the opportunity. What Adam is doing by keeping The Krebs is really a tremendous thing and he’s doing it for all the right reasons,” Robinson said. “The Krebs is more than 100-years old and its right in the heart of the Village and if Adam didn’t purchase it and keep it as The Krebs who knows what would have become of it. When I talk to restaurateurs around the world they all know The Krebs. It’s truly an institution. We are looking to make it one of the best destination restaurants in the east with the finest food and finest service.”
The Krebs, which had a longtime reputation as one of the most famous dining spots in Finger Lakes region, received national attention when Bill and Hillary Clinton dined there in 1999 while vacationing in Skaneateles.
Larry Loveless said he was having the week from “Hell,” when then President Clinton and his first lady Hillary came to visit Krebs. But when Bill Clinton walked up and said to him, “I’ve been waiting to meet you.”
Larry said, “You could have hit me with a club.” Then, Larry, Jan, Bill and Hillary sat together and had a very enjoyable evening.
Starting out anew
It has come far from humble beginnings in 1899 when Fred and Cora Krebs started serving their neighbors. Rooms were rented all over town, and those boarders took their meals at Krebs. Board included three meals a day at a cost of $8 per week. Dinner was 50 cents.
The Weitsmans plan to retain The Krebs early American d (c)cor and elegance.
“We want to continue the legacy the Krebs and Loveless families have established,” Weitsman said. “Take something that is already great and make it even better for the loyal patrons of the restaurant, for the economic stability of Skaneateles, but most of all for the needy of Onondaga County who will benefit from the proceeds.”
Adam Weitsman is president of Upstate Shredding and Ben Weitsman & Son, the largest privately held scrap metal processor and recycling center in the eastern U.S.