When Rich Credidio was working as a bartender and musician in his 20s he envisioned owning some kind of version of what is now in Peekskill.
“I always had (the idea) in the back of my mind, but when the time came to raise a family, I had to do something practical so I went into the corporate world,” Credidio said.
Once Rich and his wife Jeannie, who also runs the business, became empty nesters, they decided to live out that dream from 30 years ago.
Attracted to Peekskill by the Paramount and the "restaurant row" feel of N. Division Street, the couple, who live in Somers, opened 12 Grapes here in March 2008, as the economy was beginning to tank. Despite the recession, the Credidios have successfully run their first business and become a local and regional favorite for a good night out.
“My dream was to marry good food, music and wine,” Rich said, which is exactly what 12 Grapes does.
This weekend they are celebrating their fourth anniversary with three days of special shows. Jonny Feds & Da Bluez Boys with Tommy Blues Buddha play Friday; Steve Wexler & The Top Shelf, an 11-piece, horn-driven band plays Saturday; and Harmonium, a new young band, performing world–fusion funk, will play Sunday. The menu will feature higher quality specials and the bands have been asked to play celebratory and unique performances.
Over the last four years, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Gregg Allman’s band members, and Grammy and Emmy award winning musicians, have played on the 12 Grapes Stage.
“These are high-end professionals playing side by side with global icons of the music industry. The fact they would come to small stage in Peekskill is not normal for a small place,” Rich said.
He measures the business' success on its ability to attract this caliber of musician, as well as all the talented local musicians like those playing this weekend, and on public feedback. 12 Grapes was voted the best place for new live music spot by Westchester Magazine the first year it opened, and readers voted it best date spot the year after that. They have also been awarded in Wine Enthusiasts Magazine. And Patch readers voted 12 Grapesthis February.
While running a first-time business during a recession is a risk and a struggle, the Credidios have survived by carefully monitoring expenses and relying on busy sold out weekends to carry them through slower nights. They also adjusted their original plans to adapt to the economy by offering more moderately priced food than the high-end fare they had originally planned to serve.
“When people are having a good time I go home high as a kite,” Rich said. “And we have formed relationships with regulars. So many friends were strangers a couple years ago. It's fun to watch people lives as time passes.”
Rich and Jeannie are always at the restaurant, dancing around the tables, chatting with customers and having fun. They offer live music four days a week, usually for a $5-$10 cover charge and sometimes for free and features Kids Open Mic nights once a month, almost always a sold out event.
Passersby are often lured inside the brick building by the horns and drums playing Allman brothers, Stevie Wonder or original jams. The comfortable seating around the stage in the back of the restaurant allows music lovers to sit up close to watch the talented musicians solos, rips and collaboration. Dinner tables set further back from the small dance floor in front of the stage allow others to continue a good conversation, enjoy the food and watch from their seats. Often, no matter where people are sitting, they end up joining the dance floor after a few good glasses of wine.
Dinner is served until 10 p.m. most days and then bar snacks are offered a little later. The wine bar also has 12 different types of beer on the menu.
Over the last four years they’ve seen the and move onto N. Division Street and welcomed the new business. “One success leads to the next one,” he said. “Everyone has slightly different view of food and entertainment and a different age crowd. People bar hop.”
In another four years 12 Grapes might turn into 24. The Credidios hope to see the economy turn around and to turn their success into an expansion or possibly a second place.
12 Grapes is located at 12 N. Division Street, Peekskill, Tues. through Sunday. Check out their hours and calendar of events here.