Q & A from the Field: Sarah & Nick Suarez

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Gaskins

Germantown, NY[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Proprietor: Sarah & Nick Suarez[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Live: Germantown, NY
Previous Life: running other people’s restaurants in Brooklyn
Activities: swimming in lakes, creeks, pools and oceans, reading, making cocktails
Etc… cuddling in bed all morning with Milo, drinking coffee, talking with women[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px” el_class=”mobileout”][vc_column_text]When did you start Gaskins, tell us a little bit about your journey?
We opened Gaskins in June of 2015 after getting married the previous year and moving upsate. I have worked in restaurants since I was sixteen, starting at a little French Bistro in Goshen, NY. I previously managed small owner operated restaurants in NYC including Diner, Marlow & Sons, Roman’s and Franny’s. Nick is the chef and previously operated his own catering company, Backyard Cooking Company, worked at the Modern in NYC and attended the French Culinary Institute. I grew up in Orange County, NY and Nick grew up in Westchester and CT. Once we decided we wanted to open our own restaurant, we started spending time in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. We were drawn to this region because of the abundance of small farms, vibrant business community and beautiful setting. When we found Germantown and decided to open Gaskins, we imagined a bit of a sleepy country tavern that would be a haven, serving residents and visitors. We got the sleepy part wrong, that’s for sure! We’ve been blown away by the support and success we’ve had in the 5 short years we’ve been open. It’s been busy and wild and challenging. However, the community we’ve grown here has been incredible.

Tell us a little bit about Germantown and where you are located.
Germantown is nestled on the east bank of the Hudson River, with beautiful sunsets over the Catskills. It’s a tight-knit rural community with a robust and supportive network of local business owners. We love living in Germantown because there is a thriving Main St where we can shop and run into neighbors, but there is plenty of space and quiet to be found as well. Germantown has historical sites, waterfront parks, swimming holes, farm stands, annual community events and broad open spaces. We just love this town and the people here, it’s pretty damn special.

F&B is taking a hit from this pandemic like no other, giving us your perspective of this industry’s resilience and perseverance during these times and how you see all of this unfolding?
People who work in restaurants are the best people. They are tough and kind and incredibly generous. Something I’ve learned and thought a lot about during this time is that service work takes an incredible amount of emotional labor. And that labor is often invisible. I think that our industry has long been deeply imbalanced and broken. And this crisis has just upended what was an already unstable, unjust system. We are trying to spend this time asking each other questions, learning from our peers, better understanding the needs of our staff, and thinking about how we can re-shape Gaskins. When I think about the future of restaurants and what will unfold in the coming months and years I feel overwhelmed. But I also feel hopeful. I Hope that we can use this as an opportunity to repair what is deeply broken. Restaurants and dining out cannot continue to provide comfort and nourishment for the public on the backs of laborers who are underpaid, underinsured and undersupported.

What precautions are you taking/ will have to take to make customers feel more comfortable moving forward?
We think transparency is the biggest key during this time. Putting it all out there. Explaining our process, our decisions. Both to our staff and to our guests. We have to look each other in the eyes and assure one another that we value each other. And that means more than sanitizing and social distancing and wearing masks. It means being honest and being OK with constant change. With deciding each day what feels safe and right. We think this will make all of us more comfortable.

What has been the hardest struggle about this pandemic?
For me it has been loneliness. Raising a child in this time without our usual network of support has been lonely and hard. And guilt. Always guilt.

On a personal note what new habits from this time will you take with you into the future?
I’m not always good at slowing down. Even now. But when I do, it’s a gift. And I’m trying every day to do that more. To listen to the birds. To listen to myself. To accept this discomfort as part of being human.

Are you doing anything right now just for you?
Reading more. And taking long baths in the evening.

What have you been cooking a lot of lately?
Nick is the cook in our house for sure. He’s been making a lot of things with rice since our son loves rice. We’re grilling a lot now that the weather is lovely. Asparagus with everything. A bit more baking, like everyone else. So many cookies.

Have your customers changed at all during this Pandemic?
I’m not quite sure. It’s hard to know since we’ve only been doing Sunday Supper once a week for 5 weeks now. But I feel like I see our regulars, our neighbors, our friends and favorites picking up. Obviously we are seeing fewer weekenders and visitors, which is a big part of our clientele. But some people make the trek from afar to pick up dinner. We are grateful for them all.

Community is very important to all small businesses —how has your community played a part in your business during this time?
Our community is humbling. People have been so generous. With buying gift certificates, with donating to our staff, with sending kind messages, offering services and just sending me funny memes. The small businesses in our town really set the tone for this pandemic. Our local grocery store, Otto’s started doing only pre-order, curbside pretty much immediately. And everyone else has followed suit. People are wearing masks, keeping distance and waving hello. We are all trying to find ways to be good neighbors right now. Our town started a network of volunteers called Germantown Together offering services to people in need during this time and Germantown also developed a small business continuation grant fund. There are also folks working on a mutual aid plan. It’s pretty amazing! Our town and the kind people who live here buoy me daily.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”9607″ img_size=”” add_caption=”yes” el_class=”mobileout”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”9609″ img_size=”” add_caption=”yes” el_class=”mobileout”][/vc_column][/vc_row]