Brushland Eating House coming to Bovina
By Cheryl Petersen
Menu planning, equipment installation, and woodworking are all occurring simultaneously at 1927 Main Street in Bovina Center.
"The goal is to open ‘Brushland Eating House’ this coming May,” said Sohail Zandi, the building’s new owner. But, between the warmer weather and Zandi’s easygoing stride, we discover the doors are already open. “I love meeting the people here as they walk by,” added Zandi.
Sohail Zandi recently purchased the historical Bovina building, most recently the former home to Two Old Tarts, and has been meeting regularly with members of the Town of Bovina Planning Board to make sure all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed as they move forward with their business plans.
Zandi has a history of working with food service and more recently finished a one-year apprenticeship making cheese on Martha’s Vineyard. The persona of many things occurring simultaneously comes naturally to this young man and his allies. “I brought Jordan Terry onboard as chef,” said Zandi. “Jordan is a professional and we work well together.”
Brushland Eating House is designed for flexibility. Last week, Jeremy Holmes, an Ithaca sculptor, and Brandon O’Connor were finishing up some woodwork projects. A stunning 22-foot-long wooden bench will accommodate modifiable seating in the space. “A side room is being renovated to serve as a store,” said Zandi. “Customers can eat-in or come in to pick up food for on the go. We will also be selling local products.”
“The Eating House will be open all day, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” explained Jordan Terry. “We will be serving classic American meals.”
The interior of Brushland Eating House will reflect features from different time periods. “I have a meat slicer from the 20th century,” said Terry. “But, we will have a modern espresso machine for coffee enthusiasts. Sohail makes a superior latte.”
Terry is originally from a small town in Florida. “The town where I grew up is similar to Bovina Center, but without the mountains and freezing cold,” said Terry, who met and worked with Zandi in Brooklyn. Terry gained experienced in Brooklyn at the likes of Dear Bushwick, Prim Meats, and Pulino’s.
Specializing in comfort food of the highest order, the team at Brushland Eating House is reveling in the idea of supporting, feeding, and entertaining residents from Delaware County and beyond.
You can expect charred summer corn, bathed with chiles and mayo, smoked-local-fish dip, crushed beets with celery, parsley, and crème fresh, hand-rolled pasta, pork schnitzel, and handcrafted sodas and veggie juices. A fare that draws on childhood memories, the warmth of cooking with friends, and the bounty of a farmers’ market will all be tied into the Brushland Eating House.
“We like hosting,” said Zandi, adding with a smile. “And, we like challenging our stamina.” Zandi and Terry thrive on stepping up to the challenge of serving everyone from the person who quickly runs in to get something to eat, or a large party of people of all ages, celebrating a dashing couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.
“Our goal is to provide people with the experience they are looking for,” said Zandi. “Brushland Eating House will tailor the experience to the customers.” The only experience that will remain the same is that of receiving quality food, with local ingredients when possible. Otherwise, this team’s talent of tailoring is wielded, even when it comes to the title of the establishment.
“The title, Brushland Eating House, came about after speaking with the local historian, Ray LaFever,” said Zandi. “The name, Brushland came from an early settler, Alexander Brush. Also, this building was at one point a post office.”
Ray LaFever expounded in his February blog at http://bovinanyhistory.blogspot.com, “When the town was created in 1820, the Bovina Center area was often referred to as ‘The Huddle…’ In November 1849, the post office was changed to Brushland.
“Alexander Brush owned quite a bit of the land in the area and sold off parcels to people in the center. It appears that Bovina Center/Centre and Brushland were used interchangeably.
“Into the 1870s and ’80s, use of the term Brushland began to fade. The last reference in the Bovina Town Board minutes was around 1884. The post office name was officially changed from Brushland back to Bovina Centre on October 1, 1886.
“Billhead references to Brushland continued for a few years, however. These merchants were not going to throw away perfectly good invoices just because of the name change – they were Scottish, after all.”
Names may come and go, but a thread of continuity in good eating establishments remains threading its way through the history of Bovina Center.
“For our family, it all started a few years ago when my girlfriend and I came up here to visit,” said Sohail Zandi. “We were seduced by the charm. I contacted a real estate agent and when this building came up for sale, everything fell into place to move forward with a deal.” Zandi now lives here full-time. “My girlfriend, Sara Elbert, will be moving here full-time also to help in Brushland Eating house,” said Zandi. “We are attracted to the quiet and simple.”