Business SpotlightsThe Putnam Examiner

Business of the Week: Down by the Depot

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According to seasoned restaurateur and Cold Spring resident Tom Rolston, running a good restaurant does require good food, but it’s the work that one puts into the service that makes it a shining star of any community.

The Cold Spring Depot

“Five percent of running a good restaurant is the food—the rest is how you run the restaurant,” Rolston said. “You must have a good food, but it’s not the ‘be all, end all.’ It’s the little things you do.”

During a time when less people are spending money to dine out, the 63-year-old veteran of the restaurant business has managed to pull off this delicate balancing act, providing delicious food with quality service at a good price. The Cold Spring Depot, located just off Main Street in the village, has become a community staple, both for hometown residents and travelers, alike.

A former Vanderbilt passenger and freight terminal, the Cold Spring Depot was an active train station until 1954, when it was converted into a Jeep dealership. As ownership changed hands, it was transformed into a restaurant.

With slim chances of any food place flourishing in what once was considered an economically depressed area, Rolston decided to buy the property and do things his way.  The Iowan native and former television producer, who decided to switch to the restaurant business after feeling “burnt out,” added an outdoor seating to attract more folks.

“We get about 69 commuter trains passing by here each day,” Rolston said. “It’s a great place for families, especially those with kids who want to see the trains.”

A travel article written about Cold Spring in 1987 by a late friend of Rolston’s appeared in the Hartford Courant and was subsequently syndicated by the Associated Press. A slew of national newspapers picked up on the story, and suddenly the village was on the map. What was once a sleepy river town without substantial business transformed into a bustling treasure with a healthy mix of travelers and locals.

“People started showing up from all over the United States,” Rolston said.

With a combination of appetizers, soups, salads, desserts and entrees, Rolston has managed an American-style restaurant that appeals to a wide array of customers. With 27 years of running the Cold Spring Depot under his built, he finds himself integrated into a vibrant community.

His restaurant, which he decorates by the holiday, is currently featuring Oktoberfest on Saturdays and Sundays. With special German desserts like homemade apple walnut strudel and entrees like pork schnitzel, Rolston and his staff are celebrating the change of seasons the right way—with good food, and good company. When asked what the most rewarding part of owning the Cold Spring Depot was, he simply responded, “People.”

“They’re definitely the highlight of this business,” Rolston said. “There’s no other business where you can be so involved with so many people on such a personal basis—you know their kids, their grandchildren, what they do for a living. They know you.”

For more information on the Cold Spring Depot, visit or call (845)265-5000.


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