GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Rock Hill Bakehouse and Cafe has seen its share of change in the last few years. The changes may as well have started on opening day: Shortly after opening the restaurant and bakery as a consolidation of two separate storefronts, the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The pandemic started owner Matt Funiciello down two paths. One was of frustration, as he struggled to get the restaurant back open. The other was one of charity.
As of the start of June, Funiciello has changed the price tag on all bread sold out of the bakehouse. Every loaf is now being sold on a “Pay what you can” basis, to ensure that the needy in and around Glens Falls aren’t left in the dust as life gets hard. Additionally, customers who really need the help can take up to two coupons for free loaves. The response has risen like bread itself.
“It’s just been a week, and that’s just what’s happened,” Funiciello said on Monday. “We’ve had people drive 50 or 100 miles to support what we’re doing. One woman bought two loaves of bread, paid with a $100 bill, and said to put the change in our tip jar.”
Rock Hill is no stranger to goodwill. In the early months of the pandemic, a community bread rack was set up in front of the restaurant’s front door, at a time when they could not invite customers inside. Bread was free to take for those who had fallen on hard times, COVID-related or otherwise.
As cases continue to spread two years later, and factors like rising gas prices jab at locals’ wallets, Funiciello said it made sense to continue modifying the method. The bread rack did well to feed those with few means – with over 100,000 loaves given out – but the baker and business owner acknowledges that it may not have always gone to those in the absolute most need.
“The community bread rack is great to get bread to people who need it, but that bread was likely also going to people who did not. On a pragmatic level, I decided it would make more sense to move that inside, and still help people get access to food.”
About 80% of Rock Hill’s business comes out of the bakery. In addition to the Glens Falls location, bread is sold at Hannaford stores, other supermarkets, and restaurants in a roughly 100-mile radius that encompasses the Catskills, Lake Placid, and some parts of Vermont and Massachusetts.
The bakehouse – located on Curran Lane, next door to the Glens Falls Shirt Factory – was opened as a means of consolidation. Previously, Rock Hill Bakehouse operated a bakery in Moreau and a cafe in downtown Glens Falls. Before and since the move, a full loaf of emphasis has been on vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
The menu for those options is still expanding. In February, Funiciello announced that the cafe was being put on pause, citing the high cost of takeout as not being worth the business. That wasn’t the only problem, either.
“It’s been a rough couple of months, due in part to issues with equipment,” Funiciello said. “I hesitate to say there’s been a problem with staffing, because there’s a transitional issue, but it’s not a loss of employees – it’s just people not willing to do enough work during the summer season.”
On Tuesday, the cafe opens those doors once again, dropping old breakfast options in favor of fresh baked goods, coffee and espresso in the mornings. Chef Daniel Kholar has developed a Pakistani cuisine part of the lunch and dinner menu, featuring daal, pakora and more. Gluten-free pasta joins those options and the classic sandwiches. The kitchen has been rethought in order to accommodate a different situation for staffing and menu contents than was originally envisioned.
Rock Hill Bakehouse and Cafe reopens for dining from 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Bread sales – at whatever price you can afford – run all day, Tuesday-Saturday.