After a whole year, Fat Cat Deli continues to pile up
Could it be that Fat Cat Deli has already been in business for a year? Sneaked open amid the pandemic, the popular new breakfast and lunch cafe on the northeast corner of Broadway and Cornell Street in Kingston is celebrating its first anniversary this week. Neither plagues, nor supply chain issues, nor ice storms, nor disruptive road construction will stop this cat from making its mark as Midtown’s destination for delicatessen delights.
There are good reasons why Fat Cat Deli regularly receives praise from locals who post on Ulster Eateries Facebook pages. Its sandwiches are garnished with the best Tête de Sanglier charcuterie (15 types of meat and 10 cheeses); the bread and rolls come from Deising’s, which still owns the building that was once its Midtown bakery outpost. All salads are freshly made on site, and many baked goods and desserts — including killer fruit and cheesecake parfaits — are made by Jenna Farrell, daughter of Sherri Farrell, founder and director of Fat Cat. They also make their own strawberry lemonade which, in Sherri’s words, “tastes like the fair.”
Fancy a hot drink instead? Fat Cat has an all-you-can-eat coffee bar stocked with an impressive selection of syrups, including exotic flavors. The Farrell family has spawned quite a few tea drinkers, so they also cater to coffee aversions, offering two dozen different types of tea, with and without caffeine. Oat and almond milk are available for vegans and lactose intolerant people.
If you came for coffee, don’t leave without trying their breakfast offerings. Fat Cat caters to the morning crowd, opening at 6 a.m. and closing at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. But wonder of wonders, breakfast is served all the time; the grill doesn’t stop at 11 a.m. like so many competing businesses. If you’ve been sleeping but still want your eggs, this is the place. They even make their own corned beef hash from scratch.
During our recent visit, your HV1 the correspondent ordered a BLT on a hard roll, brimming with crispy boar’s head bacon. My companion opted for one of the house specialties, the Fat Cat breakfast sandwich. Imagine a generously proportioned bacon, egg and cheese combo, then add another layer of crispy hash browns. It lived up to its name. The melted cheese was plentiful and gooey. It was all we could do to make room for a few cups of cheesecake parfait.
The company’s name, says Jenna, simply reflects their desire to see people “well fed,” and the generous portions they serve reflect that. Prices are also reasonable, with deli sandwiches ranging from $7 to $8 for plain bread, a roll, wrap or bagel and $9 to $10 for a hero. Along with the huge deli selection, you can pick up classics like a Reuben or Italian combo, chicken, tuna or seafood salad. Hot air fryer chicken cutlets are popular items, and Jenna invented several specialty house sandwiches, including a bacon/chicken/ranch combo inspired pizza topping.
Born in Massachusetts to a Coast Guard father and living all over the map from Alabama to Alaska, Sherri eventually landed in Ulster County, where the family had roots. She “has worked in the food industry all her life”, according to Jenna, spending 25 years as a bartender at Chic’s Sports Bar in Kingston Plaza, followed by a long stint at the Wiltwyck Country Club caterer. But all these years, Sherri dreamed of eventually starting her own food business.
“I was researching this a while ago, talking about opening something. I was originally thinking a tavern or restaurant – but then COVID came along. Undeterred by distancing restrictions, Sherri took the plunge and rented the bright and cheerful corner space at 584 Broadway and began serving freshly prepared food that was meant to be taken out quickly. “It was really difficult to open during the pandemic,” she says. But her local peers in the business helped her succeed — ordering additional ingredients she couldn’t locate as an unknown quantity from distributors, for example.
Fat Cat proved to be a boon to many who endured several days without power during last winter’s major ice storm. “We were the only ones open at first,” she recalls. Customers were invited to relax in the warmth, charge their mobile phones and even store some perishables in the refrigerator. This community spirit is a way to quickly build customer loyalty, and now the Farrells know enough about their “regulars” to ask them about their family when they walk in. The food is fresh and good, the portions generous and the chatter free, so it’s no wonder this place already has a following.
Sherri’s future plans for the Deli include retailing some local produce for making sandwiches at home; roll freshly cut chicken cutlets in homemade breadcrumbs instead of using frozen cutlets; make homemade iced teas with fruit puree; and a return to the hot soup and turkey chili offering starting September 1. Adding a few hours on Sundays and evenings is also a possibility; they opened for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for example, and considered opening at some special events at UPAC.
“Midtown is definitely growing a lot,” Sherri says thoughtfully, gazing out her large bay windows at the row of new parking spaces lining Broadway in the wake of the now-completed major construction project. Word got around, and Fat Cat Deli became a destination that is already evolving with the challenges of our times.
For updates on what’s new from Fat Cat, including special offers, visit www.facebook.com/Fat-Cat-Deli-100394655385610/?ref=page_internal.
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