New York, Scene
Lost Dog Café Co-Founders Marie McKenna and Elizabeth Hughes were familiar with achieving their dreams. They had, after all, taken their love of music from Binghamton to New York City, where they performed as The Derangelles for many years. They lived the typical starving rock band lifestyle, oftentimes making ends meet as wait staff.
“A lot of times we would work in restaurants and I realized that it was something I really loved. I love the idea of bringing people together,” McKenna says. “After I moved back, we really missed having fun, cool places to just hang out with your friends – just kind of the coffeehouse vibe.”
In the BING tradition of creativity, they turned an old auto garage into an eatery before the downtown opportunity came up. That opportunity came in the form of a long-vacant factory born in the 1800s, when Binghamton was one of the largest cigar producers in the country.
Whether you’re a restaurateur, artist or entrepreneur, Binghamton is a place that allows you to grow thanks to good bones, affordable space and a supportive community Lost Dog is proud to be a part of. The city has a bootstrap mentality that lends itself to renewal.
“This is a place where people say, ‘I really want this to happen, I really have a vision, I’m going to make it work,’” Hughes says.
The story of the Lost Dog Café is just one in Binghamton’s rich culinary tradition – every plate tells a story. In the early 20th century, tens of thousands of immigrants flooded the “Valley of Opportunity”, and brought with them tastes of home. It’s had a massive impact on BING culture and, of course, food.
Augie Iacovelli brought over “spiedinis” (now known as spiedies) from Italy and served marinated beef, lamb and pork cubes of meat cooked on a skewer in front of bars and taverns. In the 1980s, Lupo’s S&S Char Pit created the chicken spiedies sandwich, which became and remains the most popular variation.
Italian establishments are flush in Binghamton. Consol’s Family Kitchen home of the iconic “hot pie,” an old-world pizza with thin crust has been a staple in the community since 1946. Little Venice Restaurant has been in business for over 75 years and only six people have ever prepared the thick homemade red sauce. When you visit Little Venice, you get the feeling of an authentic Sunday dinner.
A quick drive out to the country leads you to Apple Dumpling Café, where you can indulge in blueberry pancakes, apple crisps and the legendary open-faced grilled apple sandwich. To wash all that down, head to Beer Tree Brew Co., where you can choose from countless beers on tap brewed on the premises. The well-established scene in BING is part of the larger Upstate Eats Trail, a 225-mile journey through the food culture of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton.