By Jasmine Gomez | Photography by Steven J. Pallone
When April Stone’s brother was preparing to retire about seven years ago, he thought it would be fun to buy a farm. April thought it was a crazy idea. But her brother’s interest in farming eventually allowed her to bring a passion for farm-totable dining to a whole new crowd.
April now owns of one of the newest restaurants to Syracuse’s culinary scene, Stone’s Steakhouse. The business specializes in creating dishes from locally grown and raised products, including black angus beef from Green Acres in Marathon, the farm she co-owns with her brother. April handles the business side of the family business, while her brother humanely raises the cattle.
“He really puts a lot of effort into the beef that we have,” April said. “It’s a closed farm. We raise them ourselves.”
For April, it’s important to know where food comes from, she explained. She recalled seeing numerous cases of food contamination make the news about a decade ago — something that still happens today. Seeing the cases 10 years ago made her think about ways to be sure she knew where her food was coming from.
“I used to think that [if there] could be a way — that if I could grow my own things, if I had enough land – I could always get good food to give to my family and friends if the need ever arose,” April said.
She combined the idea of raising her own food with her brother’s desire to farm, and the concept of selling farm-to-table cuisine eventually emerged. April and her brother began selling the beef they raised to friends and family, but they weren’t going through the meat fast enough. She thought a restaurant might be the way to go. April started off with a six-month stint at a kiosk in ShoppingTown Mall, selling foods like gourmet burgers crafted from Green Acres beef.
“Everybody loved the idea — the concept of farm-to-table, knowing where your food’s coming from,” April said. “Even up there [at ShoppingTown Mall], we used other local farms for the greens and the cheeses, whatever we could get locally. So, that’s carried over to here.”
Though April wants to support farms in the area, she only looks to places that raise and grow their products consciously.
“I want to support local companies, but the meat — I want it to be raised in a humane environment. I really discourage buying anything with pesticides,” April said. “It doesn’t have to be organic, but it has to be raised with consciousness to the environment.”
Everything April serves at her restaurant is made fresh, from the main dishes to the desserts. She’s recruited a team of chefs who can help her achieve that goal.
For April — who had worked in infusion services since 1994 — the restaurant business is something completely new. Her goal of opening for a short time in ShoppingTown was to “get a handle” on the restaurant industry, she explained. It gave her time to establish relationships with vendors, and discover best practices.
“It’s been just a whole new learning curve, but I love doing new things,” April said. “It’s been a great project.” SWM
Stone’s Steakhouse is located at 3220 Erie Blvd E. in Syracuse. The restaurant is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday; and closed Monday. For more information, call (315) 214-5408 or visit stonessteakhouse.net or facebook.com/stonessteakhouse.