The Finger Lakes is experiencing a great deal of growth as a dining destination. A lot of the recent attention has been focused on Geneva, but there are restaurants of all kinds opening everywhere including just down the road in Waterloo. West Main Kitchen has become a popular destination, especially for breakfast. Now, the team behind that restaurant has opened their new concept, Stan’s Waterloo. Brendan Spiro describes it as modern tavern cuisine that takes advantage of the abundant agricultural resources in the region.
“We love the fact that we are so close to the agricultural community here. You’ll find, driving around, more farmland, more inputs, and a lot of younger people as well that are now starting to settle down in the restaurant industry up here.”
The restaurant is the latest project from Spiro, chef Merrill Moore, and Lee Bieber who has been buying and rehabilitating properties throughout downtown Waterloo including an extensive rehabilitation of the building that houses Stan’s. Stan’s takes its name from Bieber’s father’s plumbing business in Brooklyn. Moore was a chef for some of their joint projects in New York City before he came to to the Finger Lakes to open West Main Kitchen and now Stan’s.
“I’ve been cooking pretty much most of my life since I was 20. I went to culinary school in San Francisco and then traveled back to New York City where I’m from. Throughout my whole career, I’ve worked in Mexico. I’ve worked in Belgium. So, Brendan and I have sort of put together and international sort of pub gastro menu just taking little bits of everything and sort of creating what we’re doing at Stan’s.”
Stan’s isn’t just drawing upon the agricultural resources of the region, but from local expertise as well. Stephanie from Geneva’s Microclimate consulted on the wine list, which features Finger Lakes wines to complement local and regional craft beers on tap as well as regionally distilled spirits. Spiro points out that one of the appealing things about what’s happening in the Finger Lakes is its cooperative nature. Moore and Spiro are familiar faces around downtown Geneva and they see the same happening at Stan’s.
“There’s the cheesemaker and there’s the micro-sprout gal and there’s the two bartenders that are doing and amazing program that we can interplay with. And, oh look who just popped in. That’s the guy that’s helping us make an organic garden so that we can get locally sourced ingredients, even more hyperlocal sourced to our specifications.”
Local ingredients and collegiality aside, what really matters in any restaurant is what’s coming out of the kitchen. Some of the items on the Stan’s menu have had a test run at West Main Kitchen, but the new space affords Moore opportunities he’s not yet had here.
“The one big difference in that kitchen over there is that I have a big charcoal grill and charbroiler. I’ll be able to get more caramelization on the meats and cooking with the fire more here that I’ve done previously in other restaurants. Bigger steaks, larger format meals. We also have a nice smoker over there that we’ll be using for a daily smoking board.”
Stan’s Waterloo is now open on East Main Street in downtown Waterloo and is open every day but Tuesday at 4:30.