On the Menu: Alfresco Drinking and Dining

 The new rock garden at Sticks and Stones. Photo courtesy Sticks and Stones.

The new rock garden at Sticks and Stones. Photo courtesy Sticks and Stones.

There’s a trend that’s taken off in Schroon in a big way: eating and drinking in the great outdoors. And some of these good times take place next to a fire! But it’s not only happening at your camps or tent sites, but at some of Schroon’s better known dining and drinking establishments.

Since opening, Sticks and Stones were the trailblazers with their large outdoor stone dining deck, with numerous tabletops covered by umbrellas. Soon after came a rustic fire pit, on their grass lawn right out front.

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When Paradox Brewery opened, Paul and Joan Mrocka soon realized their small tasting room  -- aka “The Jersey Room” -- wasn’t going to accommodate the summer crowds. That led to the construction of a grown up playground of sorts, with a large outside bar, picnic tables, a tent, several corn toss games, volleyball and plenty of space for the kids and dogs to run around.

And then last year, Drakes redesigned the front of their restaurant to bring the outdoors in, replacing a stuffy and tired looking 1970s décor (most of which still remains), with a space where diners could enjoy the fresh air and cool breezes of the Adirondacks.

And we can’t forget Steve Kass and his girlfriend Gail’s original outdoor restaurant: their hot dog, snow cone and hamburger van at the Town Beach. The view from the handful of chairs and tables offers one of the best in the Adirondacks.

Next up, Patti Mehm’s Vine and Barley  -- which opened last summer -- featured two screened in outdoor decks above her Towne Store. While the space is classy, inviting and intimate, it allowed diners to experience the buzz of Main Street. Fans take note: Patti will be opening in mid-June!

But all that was so 2015.

This weekend, Sticks and Stones and Paradox unveil two new outdoor experiences. And not to be left out, Witherbee’s is joining the great outdoor party, with a new patio with six tables with red umbrellas right outside their front door.

At Sticks and Stones, Ken Fish, of Fish Construction, laid the final stones late this week in a very cool looking outdoor area, showcasing the restaurant’s fire pit.

Drawing on influences from (a mini version of) Stonehenge,? it's an inviting space to sip a cold one, while enjoying the fire on those still chilly spring evenings.

And at Paradox Brewery, the Mrocka’s have set up what we are calling the Rolls Royce of tents. This new “Big Top” is HUGE, and has plenty of seating for dozens of craft brew beer fans. It also offers protection from the North Country summer weather:  scorching sun and cold rains. Right now it’s all open, but if we get one of those crazy and annoying wet days or weeks, the tent’s sides come down – revealing windows – to allow you to have a dry drinking experience and a view!

“We wanted a bigger space where our guests could escape the elements,” Paul told Schroon Laker.

“The way we have set this up with our picnic tables is that it allows for everyone to socialize, folks getting to know their neighbors, which we encourage.”

With the new tent, the outdoor bar got longer. Paul and Joan are expecting bigger crowds than last year, as word spreads about Paradox.

“We are now being carried by five distributors. We can barely keep up production. Folks told us last year they loved the atmosphere here and that's why we expanded. Under their New York Farm Brewers license, Paradox can sell beer by the pints, offer tastings, as well as fill customer's growlers.

“With the new tent in place, our next project is to build a platform-stage for bands and musicians.”

And for fans of Paradox’s own beer made pretzels, they are back again!