Jun 20, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
After four decades of hauling heavy trays of delicious food to hungry patrons at The Retreat, waitress Cindy Crooks is calling it a day at the end of this month.
Cindy started work at The Retreat when it first opened in 1972. Nowadays the village’s busiest bistro boasts two huge dining rooms, a spacious barroom and a multi-level outdoor patio, but when John Gormel first opened the place it wasn’t much more than a modest, single-family house with a bar on the first floor.
“I was one of the very first bartenders,” Cindy recalls. “It was me and Dick Ash and a girl named Marie.”
The Retreat kitchen had yet to blossom into the creative cauldron of cuisine it is today.
“We served Tony’s Pizza,” Cindy says, “frozen pizzas we bought at the store and heated up in the kitchen.”
Before long Cindy and her boss, John Gormel, had expanded their menu by catering dinners for local fire departments and private Christmas parties. “Then we started making burgers and sandwiches at The Retreat along with soups and chili,” she remembers…and the rest is history.
Proud single mother
Over the past 42 years as The Retreat grew into one of the most consistently satisfying restaurants in Central New York, Cindy has worked many different jobs there including barmaid, manager, head waitress and server.
Though she’s understandably proud of her role as a linchpin of Liverpool’s most successful eatery, she even prouder of her accomplishments as a mother. She sent both of her sons, Brad and Jeff, to Bishop Ludden High School where they excelled at basketball and football respectively. Later she paid their tuition at Syracuse and Colgate universities.
“I was a single mother, and I did it all on my own,” Cindy says with a self-satisfied smile.
While her self-reliance has served her well, Cindy’s ever-ready to thank those who helped her along the way.
“I love The Retreat, I love my customers and I love my job,” Cindy says. “And I have to say thank you to John Gormel. We’ve both seen tremendous growth for the restaurant since those early days in the 1970s.”
Gull gearing up
Now everybody’s asking, “When is the Barking Gull going to open?”
Last week, Adam Gormel showed me around the place at 116 S. Willow St., and it’s coming along slowly but surely.
“We don’t want to rush into anything,” Adam said. “We want to do it right!”
The gorgeous Italianate wood-fired pizza over has been installed, rotisseries are in place for broiled chicken, and the upstairs outdoor bar is ready to quench thirsts.
Expect the Gormels to throw the Gull’s doors open to the public sometime in July. For most of the past decade, it functioned strictly as a venue for private parties.
Back at The Retreat, you know it’s summer when they’re rocking on the patio.
Last Saturday, June 15, the Bob Lyna Trio laid down some solid grooves on tunes from The Band, The Beatles, Buddy Holly and Bruce Springsteen. The Lyna three return on July 6.
Other upcoming patio performers include The Noisy Boys on Saturday, June 22; Jamie Notarthomas on Sunday, June 23; Frenay & Lenin on Tuesday, June 25; the Prime Time Trio Wednesday, June 26; Dave Hawthorne June 30; and Michael Crissan on July 1.
For info, visit retreatrestaurant.com, or call 457-6358.
Congratulations to longtime Retreat barmaid Angel Mauro and her fiancé, Dan Walker!
The happy couple is tying the knot this Saturday, June 22, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. How sweet it is!