By Marguerite Ward
Autumn at The Craftsman Ale House means a packed schedule of brewery events, featured beers and seasonal food recipes. In just less than two years, it has become home to a bustling community of beer aficionados and curious taste-testers alike.
Though the success of the ale house doesn’t come as surprise, it was founder Joe Vicidomini and his small team whose dedication to craft beer built The Craftsman into the hub that it is.
“What’s exciting about this place is that we care about craft beer and about brewers. We are all friends who want to share an interest, a community. It’s about the people you meet and share a drink with,” Vicidomini said.
Nestled in the heart of Harrison, the local bar and restaurant, which sits on Harrison Avenue, attracts some big names in craft beer. Just next week, The Craftsman will host a launch party with Bell’s Brewery from Michigan, a well-known brewery in the midwest that has never before distributed its beer in New York.
In the coming weeks, The Craftsman will host brewers from New Hampshire and Louisiana.
Vicidomini had never imagined he would own a restaurant or bar.
Though he worked in the restaurant industry for years to pay for school, he finished school and work in the industry for architecture. It was only after a few of his friends encouraged him to look at a Harrison property for sale that he even entertained the idea of owning his own restaurant.
After his friends’ interest in starting a restaurant waned, it was Vicidomini who took the project on. It was his idea to turn the small bar property into an ale house. With many relationships still in place from working in the restaurant business and a knack for finding a dedicated staff, Vicidomini founded The Craftsman on Nov. 1, 2011.
Despite its popularity today, The Craftsman is intent on featuring and sharing drinks with local brewers.
“It’s all about the relationships. We have experienced and novice brewers come to our place every week—whether it’s for an event or to talk over drinks at someone else’s event. We’re always thinking, ‘how can we get other people involved?’” Vicidomini said.
On any given day, The Craftsman has eight fresh, constantly rotating beers on draft and nearly 100 bottled beers from small breweries across the world. This past week, for Pumpkin Fest, The Craftsman featured over 50 pumpkin-inspired drinks.
If you ask for a Budweiser here, you’ll probably get a laugh out of the waiter, followed by a smart explanation of what craft beers you may want to try, depending on your preference.
The knowledge the staff has immediately stands out to any visitor. For Harrison residents Christine and Donny Klein, this is just one of several reasons they call The Craftsman their favorite bar.
“Coming here is not just going to a bar. It’s an experience. Every week there’s a new craft beer to sample,” Christine Klein said.
Known for its drinks, The Craftsman also has some delicious American food dishes to offer. At 3 p.m. on a Saturday, the dining area has families sitting down for a late lunch.
With speciality burgers, beer-infused soups and beer-battered chicken and apples, The Craftsman has a menu worth mentioning.
“It’s not only craft beer, but craft food too,” Donny Klein said.
With a total bar and restaurant staff of fewer than 15, The Craftsman will be busy as its two-year anniversary come November approaches. But for Vicidomini, that’s how the team prefers it.
“We’ll take an excuse to throw a party. We all love hosting,”