"I come here to run into Lance Armstrong," explains Paula Williams of Stony Point as she sits outside Bunbury's in Piermont. Williams is sitting on the very bench that, on November 2, 2009, Mr. Armstsrong relaxed on after a LiveStrong fundraiser in New York. Williams is enjoying a freshly ground cup of Bunbury java just as Armstrong did a few years before; Armstrong also partook in a cinnamon scone on that November day.
Williams and her two friends Barbara Smith and Elaine Swaebe make their way to Bunbury’s almost every Friday for "girlfriend time, a bike ride and a delicious cup of coffee." Williams is on the Clockwork Construction Inc. bike team.
“We also love the curry chicken salad,” she added.
Bunburyists, baristas and art
Tim Bartz opened Bunbury’s in 2006, and is keen to discuss how he and his wife, Vanessa Saunders, came up with the name.
“In Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, Algernon—an aristocratic young Londoner—pretends to have a friend named Bunbury who lives in the country and is frequently in ill health," he explained. "Whenever Algernon wants to avoid an unwelcome social obligation, or just get away for the weekend, he makes an ostensible visit to his 'sick friend.' In this way he can feign piety and dedication, while having the perfect excuse to get out of town, avoiding his responsibilities. He calls this practice 'Bunburying.'"
"In founding our little coffee shop, we hoped our customers would find it a pleasant escape from the daily grind," Bartz added. "We encourage 'Bunburying,' and welcome any 'Bunburyists' who happen along our way."
Bartz and Saunders met back in Minnesota about 13 years ago. Bartz is originally from Richmond, Indiana and Saunders from Wales—the two came to New York in 2000 in search of a home.
"We ended up in what is now known as Ladentown," Bartz noted. "Of course we wanted to be on the water, so after a few years we bought a home in Piermont. And at the same time the coffee shop was for sale."
Saunders' daughter Natalie was working for what was then an offshoot of Runciple Spoon in Nyack. The coffee shop came up for sale and Bartz has never looked back.
"It is the most gratifying job I have ever had," he said. "Bunburyists compliment our coffee and staff often."
Bunbury’s has its regulars who love to sit and read, chat or type away on laptops. But this special place has also seen the likes of Bjork, Bill Murray, Al Pacino and William Hurt. And Bunbury’s is a special destination for cycylists who pass through the river village on long rides.
Bunbury's also houses a local art scene; since 2006, when the coffee shop first opened, it has displayed residents' works for a one-month period. The coffee shop does not charge the artists nor take a commission.
Saunders noted most artists who show an exhibit at Bunbury's sell their work—last December, local figure painter Dan Dugan set a new record: he sold eight pieces.
The current show features the photography of Australian artist Tiziana Borghese.
"Her style is sort of dreamlike and not just representational photography," Bartz described. "Most of the images were taken last May in Piermont. She studied art in Rockland last year. Before moving to Melbourne, she visited our shop, and a few months ago she e-mailed me, asking to have a show. I said that I liked her work but wondered how she would do it being in Australia. She shipped me the prints, mounted on foamcore, connected me with friends who had a large, framed piece for the window area, and I hung the show a few Mondays ago. It looks great!”
"The art in our seating area isn't the only art show we have going," Bartz continued. "We also have a contest every month for cell-phone photography. If someone e-mails me a photo for the contest, I print it and hang in on a board opposite our serving area. It's been great fun, and I think it's a nod to a new art form. They may lack optic quality sometimes, but they are unusual, often spur of the moment kind of images instead of set pieces we often see in 'art' photography."
The coffee and tea
"One of the keys to great coffee is freshness," Bartz explains. "We buy our coffee from Coffee Labs Roasters in Tarrytown. We go there several times a week and only grind what we need for that day."
Bunbury’s famous house coffee is Dog’s Bollix. The name is derived from a British phrase "well isn’t that the dog’s bollocks,” or "isn't that great." Dog's Bollix is a blend of Guatemalan, Nicaraguan and Peruvian Monsoon beans and boasts a robust and hearty taste. Bunbury’s also carries over 20 teas, including herbal teas, black teas and green teas.
Muffins, scones, cookies, bagels and more are baked every weekday morning by Marie, a Bunbury employee who taught baking when she lived in Haiti. The sandwiches and wraps are made fresh everyday, and include combinations like tuna, onion, mayo, celery, lettuce and a dash of tabasco on whole grain bread, or Bunbury’s ham sandwich—sliced ham, apple, brie cheese with dijonnaise sauce and lettuce on whole grain. If you are a little more daring and rode for miles to get to Bunbury’s, go for the Ploughman’s Lunch: Irish cheddar with branson pickle sauce on buttered whole grain bread.
- Bunbury’s Coffee Shop: 460 Piermont Avenue, Piermont, NY 10968
- 845-398-9715, http://bunburyscoffee.com
- Mon - Fri: 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat - Sun: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.