Foundry Cafe Closes

Jeff Consaga

Jeff Consaga began working in 1990 at what became the Foundry Cafe and took it over in 1996. (Photo by Alexander Wilcox Cheek)

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Latest longtime business to shutter in Cold Spring

For Jeff Consaga, the owner and chef of the Foundry Cafe, time in the restaurant business can be measured by the egg count. 

A couple of years ago, a cafe regular posed a question: “Consaga, how many eggs have you cracked in your career?”

“We broke it down with the help of a calculator,” Consaga recalls. He provided The Current this week with the final total — “I’d say at least 2½ million” — because the Foundry closed last month, ending a 26-year run on Main Street in Cold Spring. 

The loss of the cafe is the most recent of a series of departures by longtime Cold Spring businesses, including the Downtown Gallery, which closed in 2020 after 34 years; C&E Paint Supply, which closed in December after nearly 70 years; and The Country Goose, which will close in March after 37 years.

Consaga began working as a cook at the cafe 32 years ago, when it was known as Karen’s Kitchen, and took over and renamed the business in 1996 in a nod to the West Point Foundry, which fueled Cold Spring’s early history.

He has a love for cooking that began in childhood. “If I had egg drop soup at a Chinese restaurant I’d go home, open a can of chicken noodle soup, add an egg and call it chicken noodle egg drop soup!” he recalls.

With Consaga at the helm, the Foundry quickly became known for its made-from-scratch menu, including soups, quiche, salads, pies, cakes, Linzer tarts, muffins and two-handed sandwiches. 

But it was French toast that put the Foundry on the culinary map after a customer asked to have the dish topped with fruit. Never known for his stingy portions, Consaga added strawberries, blueberries, bananas and apple. The customer returned the next day and ordered it again. And again, the next day, with his son — a double order. 

The customer took a photo and introduced the internet to Foundry French toast. 

“Initially it wasn’t bad,” Consaga said. “But then it took off.” People came from miles around. “I’m very proud of it,” he said. “But it’s also been the bane of my existence.”

The Foundry Cafe

The Foundry Cafe debuted in Cold Spring in 1996. (Photo by Alexander Wilcox Cheek)

Consaga groans recalling the occasional customer who told him they would love to run a restaurant.  “What they don’t understand is that the restaurant runs you,” Consaga said, adding it’s different when you’re the owner, chef, bookkeeper and, at times, dishwasher. 

“It’s all-consuming,” he said. “People just don’t imagine the amount of work.”

The Foundry wasn’t just a workplace. For many it was about community — from the morning Scrabble games to potluck parties and live music. 

About 20 years ago, Consaga decided it was too expensive to go to Manhattan for New Year’s Eve, so he brought the festivities to the cafe. The first celebration drew only a handful of people. That changed in Year Two with the creation of The Foundry All Stars, a group of musicians who became the de facto Dec. 31 house band.

Its members shifted through the evening. “Ten to 15 people would play at different times,” Consaga said. “Sometimes there were so many musicians, not everyone got to play.”

The potluck, BYOB, live band and a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd became a tradition. “Those parties were true community,” Consaga said. 

Grade 1 Class at the Foundry Cafe

Haldane first graders quizzed Consaga (left) about his business in May 2019 for a class project. (File photo by Michael Turton)

In 2005, his affection for the community, and his beloved cafe, were captured on Hallmark TV’s The New Morning Show. It starred Consaga, supported by a cast of die-hard customers.

In 2017, The Current published “Cafe Confidential” in which Consaga recounted some of the cafe’s most bizarre moments and eccentric visitors. It remains one of the most-read stories on the newspaper’s site.

One woman still stands out, Consaga said. 

“She was hot!” he recalled. “High heels, white, see-through blouse, black leather miniskirt.” 

But it wasn’t her attire he remembers most. On a previous visit, she had offered to buy a beautiful, antique doorknob on a door at the back of the cafe but Consaga said he wasn’t interested in selling. 

On her second visit she came prepared. “She replaced it with a cheap, glass knob,” Consaga said with a laugh, adding that he’s had nearly 200 music CDs stolen as well over the years. 

But the bad memories are few and far between. For Consaga, the good ones are about the people, including celebrities he got to know and like, from Lou Reed and Bernie Williams to Diane Weiss, Pete Seeger, Rupert Holmes and Scarlett Johansson. 

And the locals. 

“There are some really, really good people in Cold Spring,” Consaga said. “So many of my customers are friends, great and interesting people from so many fields of knowledge.” He hesitated to name anyone but made two exceptions. “Sharon and Colleen,” he said. “Between them they’ve been with me for more than years.”

He also said he would take a few souvenirs. “I have important pictures of me with Guy Davis and Amanda Mosher, and a painting of the Foundry Cafe by Cheryl Johnson,” he said. “And a thick stack of posters from every band that’s ever played here.” 

So why is he giving it up?

“At 67, with herniated discs in my back and the arthritis, I’m well past ready for retirement,” Consaga said. “It’s just kind of the right time.”

He said he has a few plans once the weather warms up, such as heading to the cliffs at Little Stony Point with his guitar and a beverage or two. 

“And I’d like to go fishing,” he said. “In the past five years I’ve gone maybe twice. I didn’t catch anything, but it’s nice just to sit there.”

4 thoughts on “Foundry Cafe Closes

  1. Jeff Consaga was more than a restaurateur, and the Foundry was so much more than a cafe. It was the heartbeat of Cold Spring. With its closing, we have lost a cherished family member.

    The Foundry was the first place my late uncle, Art Kamell, brought me when I moved to Cold Spring in 2005. “The talk of the town starts here,” he said.
    Jeff’s acolytes, Sharon and Colleen, could make the sun shine on a cloudy day. Sharon knew what I wanted before I sat down: scrambled eggs, well done; bacon, crispy but not burnt; home fries; wheat toast; grain mustard. When our son was born, she bought us a teddy bear with a beating, battery-operated heart.

    Jeff was a patron saint of prickly personalities. He had the people skills to manage the contentious ’77 Yankees. He might have even kept the Beatles or Simon & Garfunkel together. He did have fabulous taste in music, because the Foundry’s shelves were a veritable Smithsonian.

    I especially loved Jeff’s lentil cakes, and his blueberry and carrot muffins, too, although they gave me indigestion. His shows on New Year’s Eve were rollicking fun. The Philipstown gentry that gathered on Saturday mornings in the back room were living testimony to changing times. George Stevenson’s richly detailed paintings celebrated an unsung American folk artist. In the cold of winter, the menorah in the window at Hanukkah warmed my heart.

    And was there anything better than the caramelized glaze on Jeff’s signature French toast? His presentation belonged in a glossy magazine. For my birthday one year, he placed a shining candle on the plate between stiletto-thin slices of apples, strawberries and bananas that looked like sashimi.

    I never figured out whether the red or the gold pot contained the decaf coffee. But there was no mistaking the love, faith and fortitude that Jeff packed into his tiny stick of Cold Spring dynamite. I’m just so happy that he cracked some of those 2.5 million eggs for me.

  2. I have been craving Jeff’s multigrain pancakes since the pandemic shutdown began in March 2020. A post-run brunch with the family was going to be my post-pandemic treat. I’m glad Jeff is taking a rest, but I wish I could have eaten one last stack. [via Facebook]

  3. We loved having breakfast at the Foundry and wish the best for Jeff and Sharon and Colleen. They felt like family and we miss them already!

  4. It saddened me to see that The Foundry closed. Jeff and Sharon were absolutely amazing to work for and with. They welcomed me like one of their own. It was an honor to be a part of the family and Cold Spring. I appreciate all the community did to make me feel apart of the large family it was. I miss everyone there and is a beautiful place to live. Thank you Jeff, Sharon and the great people of Cold Spring for everything!