Glen Bernardi Sr. had talked about partnering with his two sons, Glen and Craig, to open a restaurant and follow in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.
In less than four years, the kids have certainly made their mark. Not only have they operated the successful Bobo’s Café in Somers, but now they have expanded their business.
Bobo’s Café, named after the boys’ paternal grandfather, opened its doors at the town-owned Chappaqua train depot building on Aug. 12, taking over the existing lease from Chappaqua Station. There were six years remaining on the lease and the Town of New Castle added another four. The establishment serves breakfast and lunch and will soon add dinner to its repertoire.
The original Bobo’s Café is located at the Heritage Center on Route 6 in Somers. They plan to open a third Bobo’s later this year in Baldwin Place, just over the Westchester-Putnam line from Mahopac.
“I offered to do something with them on this and they took the ball and ran with it,” Bernardi said of his sons. “I can’t take credit for that. They really surprised their father. They have a real passion.”
At the Chappaqua train station, Bobo’s Café is open for commuters by 6 a.m. during the week with its selection of coffee, bagels and baked goods as well a variety of egg sandwiches for the morning crowd. They also have a griddle to make waffles.
For lunch, there is an assortment of sandwiches that include turkey, chicken and grilled cheese and several other selections.
Bernardi said that over time the menu has evolved, initially focusing on coffee and pastries along with the sandwiches. Now they have developed breakfast bowls, which have proven popular and salads. There are selections for vegans and those seeking to have gluten-free food, he said.
Each location has a chef on the premises making the food to order, Bernardi said. However, the dynamics of operating a food establishment at a train station requires staff at the Chappaqua Bobo’s to operate quickly, particularly with the morning commuters.
“The challenges are people are doing things for speed, and everything is speed oriented,” said Bernardi. “We’re keeping bagels in cellophane; we’re making egg sandwiches to go. Over here, they’re looking to grab (something) and get on a train. That’s why we have a lot of things to grab and go, where you can take it, and it’s right there and they can take off.”
Bobo’s has gained a reputation for its smoothies. There will also be a soft serve ice cream machine, he said.
There is something for all ages, tastes and dietary requirements. There are about 50 seats between the indoor seating and the tables and chairs that are set up outdoors during the warmer weather.
“It’s a meeting place, it’s a fun place where teens and adults and old people, they all can come and co-exist,” Bernardi said. “Just a fun, happening place.”
Currently, Bobo’s Cafe remains open through the evening rush until about 7:30 or 8 p.m. but that will change, he said. Some dinner items will be phased in for patrons to take out and to stay and eat.
The café’s owners have applied for a liquor license, and once that has been obtained, it is likely to stay open until 10 p.m., Bernardi said. There will be Sunday hours until about 3 or 4 p.m. starting shortly after Labor Day, he said.
So far, the reaction from the public has been strong and the Town of New Castle was cooperative in helping Bobo’s open promptly, Bernardi said.
“They seem to be very excited, they’re coming in, they’re telling friends,” he said. “We’re very thankful, we’re very lucky with the people we’ve worked with.”