The story of Blue Mountain Bistro to Go begins with grandmothers. Richard Erickson’s food fascination began at his Iowa grandmother’s farmhouse table, feasting on fresh-plucked roast chicken and fresh-picked sweet corn. In college, he learned that he who fixes a good meal for friends usually avoids dish duty. After college, he knocked around Europe, the Near and Middle East, and Asia for six years, doing odd jobs, always noticing the way good food melted language barriers and differences. Returning to the US, he landed in New Mexico and helped hippies make sprouts, then mastered French-style scrambled eggs under the eye of a chef who tossed his efforts unceremoniously into the trash for two solid weeks. Arriving in New York in 1978, he was waiting tables in the theatre district when he met a young illustrator named Mary Anne.
Mary Anne had grown up in Seattle and the Midwest, hearing tales of her late grandmother Lovey’s epic meals. Lovey regularly gathered not just her seven kids but anyone nearby and hungry around the Depression-era family table. Mary Anne’s mother, the oldest of the seven, was a consummate hostess who thrived on a house full of company.
Mary Anne graduated Art Center College of Design in LA, then headed to New York; she and Richard married a year after they met, and she built a career as a graphic designer and painter while he found his path from random restaurant roustabout to top-flight chef, eventually teaching at the French Culinary Academy.
Top-notch takeout was an underserved niche they felt they could fill, and in 2007, the couple reopened as Bistro To Go on Route 28, serving their trademark “Feel Good Food” to locals and visitors of all descriptions.
Knowing that the produce he loved at the Union Square Greenmarket had been grown in the Hudson Valley got Richard thinking. Naturally, the couple caught the upstate exploration bug, finding themselves a fixer-upper barn just outside Woodstock in 1985 and going full-time by 1990. Their first restaurant, the Blue Mountain Bistro, opened at the Woodstock Golf Club in 1993.
Richard’s cooking and Mary Anne’s hospitality and design sense proved the ingredients of a smash hit, and in 1996 they bought a building on the corner of Route 212 and Glasco Turnpike, where the restaurant remained until 2005.
Top-notch takeout was an underserved niche they felt they could fill, and in 2007, the couple reopened as Bistro to Go on Route 28, serving their trademark “Feel Good Food” to locals and visitors of all descriptions.
“We serve busy working professionals, Hudson Valley residents, discerning New York City second-homeowners, and visitors on Route 28, people of all races and economic status,” says Mary Anne. “We stay closely connected to our community and give back through on-going donations to local food banks, soup kitchens, and fundraisers.”
Their loyal customer base has followed their moves with gusto. “We were known for consistently excellent food and friendly service in our restaurant,” says Mary Anne. “This was all we needed to know to start another business offering delicious food and friendly service.”
That’s exactly what Blue Mountain Bistro to Go provides: fresh, seasonal, and healthy takeout and catering at a decent price. “This is not your typical catering, this is delicious fresh flavorful food!!” raves Amanda in a Google review. “We were so afraid that reheating everything would dry it out, but all could not have been more juicy and perfect (even the steak!). Everyone raved about everything! The green beans and mushrooms were so good I ate them for breakfast the next day. No joke.”
“We stay closely connected to our community and give back through ongoing donations to local food banks, soup kitchens, and fundraisers.”
- Mary Anne Erickson, co-owner, Bistro to Go
“We love helping make people’s lives easier and seeing the smiles of appreciation on their faces when they enjoy our food,” says Mary Anne. “In the catering we do, helping create magical celebrations for some of life’s most memorable events is really wonderful.”
The everyday lunch menu offers sandwiches, wraps, and paninis made with house-roasted turkey and beef and served with hand-crafted condiments along with salads; then there are daily specials like salmon Dijonnaise, Bistro Steak, and Moroccan chicken salad, and the Plats Du Jour—dinner specials that change each day. There’s also a custom bakery for all sorts of sweets, with lots of gluten-free yet flavorful options. On the website you’ll find a long list of local farmers and purveyors, trusted teammates, but the transparency doesn’t stop there; you can grab a copy of the Feel Good Food Cookbook and have access to 163 recipes that the couple hopes will inspire you to “head straight to a farm stand, invite friends over, and start cooking.”
Food this good simply doesn’t come from unhappy hands, and the Ericksons strive to make sure the atmosphere in the back of the house is savory as well. “We treat each other with respect and kindness and encourage our staff to work together as a team and stress kindness and joy,” says Mary Anne. “We create that joy by sharing our knowledge and passion, and modeling a willingness to face challenges with a positive attitude.”
That team spirit came through during the pandemic’s challenges. “Our team was absolutely stellar,” says Mary Anne. “Everyone was very conscientious about cleaning and masking, and excited to get vaccinated once we could. It was a very scary time, and we all pulled together to adapt and keep things running. We did slightly alter our hours of operation to function with fewer employees, as a number of people decided they didn’t want to continue working.”
Innovations like curbside pickup and delivery turned out to make lots of sense; the pandemic’s only casualty was indoor dining. “We had a small cafe and closed it when the shutdown happened, and haven’t reopened it as we currently allow only six people in our store at one time. We do have picnic tables outside.”
You can eat your takeout there, while admiring Mary Anne’s retro neon sign, or take a splendid meal on your hike or back to home base after a busy day. And while the flavors melt in your mouth, send a fond thought of thanks to farms—and to grandmothers.
Blue Mountain Bistro-to-Go
948 NY-28, Kingston, NY 12401