Seven months after shutting down their venerable Flour Power Bakery, Denise and J.R. Rowley have opened a new bistro in the same Livingston Manor location.
LIVINGSTON MANOR — Denise and J.R. Rowley indulged themselves with much-needed down time after they decided to close their popular Flour Power Bakery in January.
They visited family.
Then they grew restless.
Now seven months later the couple has opened Hello Bistro, a 50-seat restaurant carved out of the same converted house on DeBruce Road where they operated the bakery for five years.
Hoping for a repeat
The bakery had been a gathering spot for local foodies, and the Rowleys are hoping for the same from the bistro. So far it appears their hopes may be realized. Friday’s opening day was booked, as was Saturday, Denise Rowley said.
“We just like to feed people,” Denise Rowley said Friday afternoon as the apron-clad couple hurried to get ready for a 5 p.m. opening. “Something about it makes us happy.”
The Rowleys, who both have backgrounds in advertising, opened Flour Power about seven years ago, after deciding the area needed a bakery more than a restaurant.
They moved into a retrofitted white house overlooking the hills enveloping Livingston Manor five years ago. The year-round bakery, with its large porch, became a destination, and the Rowleys omnipresent at area farmers markets.
But both wearied of the challenge of surviving the county’s dead winter months and of the physical demands of running a bakery while also driving from market to market.
“It was exhausting,” Denise Rowley said. “There was a lot of rushing to get to market on time.” The decision to open a bistro meant renovating. One wall was removed to open up the dining room, and the Rowleys bought new furniture. J.R. Rowley did most of the woodwork, and the couple added new fixtures, trim and paint.
Why a bistro?
“A bistro is casual,” J.R. Rowley said. “It’s a very friendly atmosphere; people talk to each other.”
A bit of everything
Hello Bistro’s menu will feature “a little bit of everything,” J.R. Rowley said. Diners will be able to enjoy dishes ranging from American and French entrees to hamburgers.
The opening weekend menu included such fare as Asian pork tenderloin, pan-seared scallops, caramelized shallots and crème brulee. The menu will vary by season and will depend in part on what local farmers have available.
Upstairs, the Rowleys will continue to host book and poetry readings and display works by local artists. Downstairs, the rush to fill and deliver diners’ orders promises a special reward:
“The smile on their faces when they eat something really good,” Denise Rowley said.