The Examiner

McGrath Sells P’ville’s Iron Horse Grill; Will Expand Other Ventures

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 Phil McGrath, left, with new Iron Horse owner Andrew Economos.

Phil McGrath, left, with new Iron Horse owner Andrew Economos.

Restaurateur Phil McGrath, who opened Pleasantville’s highly acclaimed Iron Horse Grill 15 years ago, has sold the establishment to his business partner Andrew Economos.

McGrath said that Economos, who also owns other restaurants, recently made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse. After discussing the offer with his wife and wanting to have more time to teach at Westchester Community College, McGrath said that it was the right move to make.

“It’s bittersweet like anything else, I think,” McGrath said during a Sunday afternoon open house at the restaurant where patrons wished him well and welcomed Economos. “But, you know, 15 years is a long run. Cathy and I, our kids are grown, we have plenty on our plate with Seahorse and Pony Express.”

Although he is leaving the business that to many area residents and diners has become synonymous with his name, McGrath isn’t going very far. He will remain a co-owner with Economos in the Pony Express and the Seahorse Seafood Shack, both on the same end of Wheeler Avenue as the Iron Horse.

In fact, a key reason for the transaction, he said, are the plans to expand those two establishments to other locations in Westchester. Currently, Mount Kisco and Larchmont are being eyed as possible new communities for Pony Express, which is billed as healthy fast food.

“Our goal is to expand both those brands, and also teaching at Westchester Community College is something I really enjoy doing, and now I can devote more time to that,” McGrath said.

Economos, who also owns Palomino, an Italian restaurant in Larchmont, said he was looking to build on the strong following that McGrath had established in Pleasantville as well as making some changes to the menu and in the hours and days of operation. One of the first moves will be to open the 60-seat restaurant on Sundays for brunch and dinner. He also plans to serve lunch.

The Iron Horse, which is housed in the century-old former Pleasantville train station building, has been closed on Sundays and Mondays and only open for dinner.

“I like someplace where you can say ‘Let’s go to Iron Horse and you don’t have to think whether it’s Monday or Tuesday or whatever day, that it’s there,'” Economos said. “It’s someplace you can go to and it’s there for you. I like that feeling of consistency and I want to bring it here, but it’s going to take time to change that stuff and I’m trying to do that now.”

All staff members will be retained, Economos said. David Barrera has been brought in to be the maitre d to fill the role that McGrath usually filled in greeting and seating customers.

Economos also plans to revise the menu by featuring cuisine from different areas of the United States on a rotating basis.

Patrons at Sunday’s open house had glowing comments about the restaurant and looked forward to the new owner. Bill Rubin of Yorktown said his visits to the Iron Horse have been consistently enjoyable and he looks forward to the restaurant being open for lunch.

“Phil’s always put out a very nice product here and it was always very good,” Rubin said.

The samplings passed around on Sunday gave Pleasantville resident Kathy Pressler confidence that the restaurant’s high quality will remain.

“The new restaurant will be delicious based on the tastes that we had today,” she said.

Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer said the Iron Horse has been an important fixture in the community and that should continue.

“Phil has done a great job with Iron Horse,” Scherer said. “We are delighted he’s selling his share to Andrew Economos and that the future of the restaurant is secure since he is now the owner of the building.”

About two months ago, the village sold the structure to Economos for about $650,000, although the transaction hasn’t been formally completed, McGrath said.

Jon Craig contributed to this article.



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