VIDEO: New York restaurant closes its doors
VERNON, NEW YORK — Classic Christmas music played in the background while customers enjoyed home-style breakfasts Sunday at The Mason Jar restaurant.
It could have been an average day for the 50-year-old restaurant, but was in fact its last day of business.
After the loss of Oneida Ltd. and downsizing of the race track at Vernon Downs, the town hasn’t been able to sustain its remaining businesses, the owners said.
“With the money you’re making, you can’t keep doing it,” said Dianne Putaski, who took over ownership of the Mason Jar nine years ago with her husband, Donald Putaski. “The whole area is dying.”
On an average day, she said, the restaurant serves around 100 customers. The establishment used to serve more.
“When it was really busy, we did double that,” said Donald Putaski. “Then it got slower and slower.”
In an interview last week, Donald Putaski pointed to the rise of the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in nearby Verona as a competitive force that’s lured business away from Vernon.
“People are getting off (the state Thruway) in Verona and getting on in Verona, next to the Turning Stone,” he said. “No one’s going through Vernon anymore.”
The couple also attributed the rising costs of gas and food as factors for shutting down the business.
On the plus side for the Putaskis, closing the restaurant will allow them to spend more time with their children.
However, the news was sad for regular customers and employees.
Verona couple Pat and Rod Nestle go out for breakfast every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Rod Nestle said he has been going to the restaurant, located on Route 5, since the ’70s.
“It actually hasn’t changed very much,” Pat Nestle said. “There’s good food and good service.”
Kyle Bradely of Oneida has been working at the restaurant for the last six years as a prep cook and a handyman.
He’s planning to go back to college.
“It’s been a good experience; we meet different people every day,” he said.