A New Twist on an Old Favorite
By Lorna Oppedisano | Photography by Steven J. Pallone
When we last checked in with local entrepreneur and chef DeAnna Germano, owner and founder of the catering, home meal delivery and food truck business Chef4Rent, and SWM’s July cover woman, she mentioned she might eventually want a brick-and-mortar location.
“Right now, I’m just kind of seeing where it takes me,” she had said.
Well, it took her to eventually a bit sooner than she’d originally anticipated.
Along with her husband, executive chef and co-owner Mark Germano, and their friends and business partners, Keri and Jake Fey, DeAnna recently opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Cócaire, at the Wayside Irish Pub in Elbridge.
Having known the current owners of the Wayside through Chef4Rent — DeAnna uses the pub’s kitchen as a commissary space — DeAnna and the team jumped at the chance to take over and expand the menu.
“Leasing out the kitchen gives us the opportunity to learn the clientele, be here, learn the bar, learn the ins and outs, the history and all of that, with an option to buy,” DeAnna said.
The team entered the space in early October to clean, organize and work on menu creation. On Oct. 14, they opened Cócaire.
Before the addition of the new eatery, the pub offered a small selection of typical bar food. When DeAnna and the team stepped in, it was important to them that the new menus featured homemade dishes.
The goal was to keep a pub-style menu and traditional Irish dishes, but put their own homemade spin on the food.
“We wanted to keep their best-sellers, revamp some of their not-best-sellers and then put on some of our strengths,” DeAnna explained.
For example, the team reimagined the bar favorite, a pretzel, into the Bavarian pretzel, one of the largest pretzels you’ve ever seen, served with choice of beer cheese or spicy mustard.
For a traditional Irish dish, DeAnna urged new customers to try the shepherd’s pie, adding that her husband’s shepherd’s pie is “out of this world.”
With a new menu debuting this month, and a recently revamped bar menu, the team has been trying out nightly specials to see what the customers — newcomers and Wayside regulars alike — enjoy most.
“The regulars love [Cócaire],” she said. “The regulars are very happy because now there’s new food. They are great with giving us their feedback on the food, too, and helping us create the best balance.”
Along with the regulars, the team is working to bring in new clientele from Camillus, Marcellus, Skaneateles and Syracuse.
Throughout the opening process, DeAnna’s balanced Chef4Rent with the new establishment. For her and Mark, both of whom have worked in a number of kitchens around the region, the frontof-house responsibilities are a new endeavor.
“But at the same time, for three years, I had to learn how to sell myself and sell my business [Chef4Rent],” DeAnna said, “so I know customer service.”
She and Mark plan to purchase the establishment within the next year or so. The four partners — DeAnna, Mark, Keri and Jake — will have equal say in decisions. DeAnna expects she will eventually step back from Cócaire and focus solely on Chef4Rent again.
For now, it’s “still a lot of caffeine,” she said.
“I know I said that in the last article,” DeAnna laughed, “but it’s still a lot of caffeine. Raising two kids. Two businesses. Mark, Keri and Jake are indispensable. They have been the reason we’ve been able to do this. I could not do this on my own.” SWM
Cócaire is located inside the Wayside Irish Pub in Elbridge, at 101 W. Main St. The dinner menu is available daily from 5 to 10 p.m. Children eat free on Tuesdays. The bar menu is available until 2 a.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/cocairerestaurant.