For more than 20 years, Glens Falls natives Ed, Patty and Adrian Bethel have grown Cooper’s Cave Ale Company from an initial microbrewery and handcrafted soda business to include retail, ice cream, and then a pub and restaurant in 2009. Two years after the pub’s opening, a four season deck was constructed to accommodate diners along the scenic Warren County bikeway.
Even with decades of entrepreneurial experience, and a track record of growth, COVID-19 has been a difficult chapter for the family.
Like many restaurateurs, the Bethels have carried on, making adjustments along the way. Learn how the family has focused on “bright spots” during this unique time, and how the popular, family-friendly destination is planning for the remainder of 2020.
Ice Cream Abundance Goes to Essential Workers
When COVID hit in March, Patty found herself in an unusual predicament. Demand dropped so suddenly that Cooper’s Cave freezers were packed to the brim with ice cream cakes.
Patty initially thought the cakes would go to waste until a generous patron purchased every cake in the freezer, offering the treats to essential healthcare workers, police departments, and emergency personnel. Patty characterized the moment as a great memory amidst the chaos of the pandemic’s beginning.
As families settled into the “new normal,” at-home celebrations took priority, and so did orders for Cooper’s Cave customized ice cream cakes.
“Our ice cream cake business is strong,” said Patty, who confirmed the cakes can be ordered year-round.
She also credits two longtime friends for serving as sounding boards and supports.
Together, the business owners often collaborate to help various initiatives related to regional youth such as Food for Thought, a charity organization that provides school day snacks to hungry students in Warren, Washington, & Saratoga counties in Upstate NY. They have also been deeply involved with the Glens Falls Youth Center, with Patty having cooked countless dinners at the facility.
“Amy does so much behind the scenes,” said Patty, “And Mr. O’Brien and O’Brien’s Angels are extremely important to this community… and my sanity.”
O’Brien’s Angels, a project of O’Brien Insurance and John O’Brien, connects those who have something to give with those in need, facilitated through a Facebook group with more than 700 community members.
Cooper’s Cave is no stranger to takeout. Prior to COVID-19, the restaurant popularized “Takeout Tuesday,” serving as one of the area’s initial eateries to develop weekly, takeout family meals. Patty and Adrian report the affordable meals (think Eggplant and Chicken Parmesan, Pulled Pork Sliders, Tacos and more!) will make a comeback this fall.
With the restaurant’s four season porch, diners can also comfortably eat outside, plus the Bethels have added additional outdoor seating along the Warren County bikeway.
The restaurant also uses the food ordering app, ChowNow, to accommodate online orders.
Their abilities to provide delicious meals via takeout even merited the restaurant with a “Best Takeaway Food in Glens Falls” award, issued by restaurantguru.com.
Ice Cream Season Extended
Just in time for back-to-school treats! Cooper’s Cave is extending their ice cream season for as long as weather permits.
With their location next to the bike trail, families can safely walk or bike during their ice cream adventures (meaning children can burn off that after-school energy!).
Another bright spot for Patty is that her summer 2020 ice cream crew proved to be the “best they’ve ever had.” With several college students opting to study virtually and stay home, the business has retained workers at the ice cream window, making it an easy choice to keep serving treats into the fall.
Expect great service, but the real excitement is dozens of customized soft serve flavor options, hard ice cream made in-house, and Only 8 Frozen Yogurt.
Cooper’s Cave is also well-known for serving all natural Almond Milk Swirl, which is vegan, gluten-free, and non-dairy.
Tip: Treat your four-legged friends too! Cooper’s Cave offers ice cream dog dishes, served with a bone garnish.
Top 10% of Worldwide Restaurants
What do you get when you have on-site ice cream, a wide selection of craft beers, gourmet sodas, a retail shop, delectable pub dishes, plus friendly service? Rave reviews!
Cooper’s Cave has earned several accolades this year, most recently ranking in the top 10% of restaurants worldwide by TripAdvisor. The award is based on positive reviews and ratings from travelers worldwide.
“Our reviews often include comments about us having the best kitchen staff and servers,” said Patty. And of course, accolades come in about the Cave’s food and beverages too.
According to Patty, their bluesberry ale, the lightest in body of their craft beer selection, is always a crowd favorite. For food, their top-selling dish is the beer-battered fish and chips, though close behind are their numerous versions of certified-angus beef burgers. Patrons also love the spicy buffalo chicken soup (served with buffalo pretzel croutons) and chopped salad. Listed on the menu as “a taste sensation in every bite,” the salad is made-to-order with finely diced vegetables, bleu cheese crumbles and creamy balsamic dressing, with nuts, croutons & dried fruit on the side.
The retail shop is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m., and Sundays, noon to 5:00 p.m.
New September ice cream hours, weather permitting, are Wednesdays and Thursdays 4-8:00 p.m., Friday 4-9:00 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday noon-9:00 p.m. Ice cream is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Special thanks to John O’Brien of O’Brien Insurance Agency for supporting this story. John recommends his favorite menu items: the baby back ribs, ALL burgers, and the fish dinner (“It’s HUGE!” says John.) For ice cream, John recommends the “O’Brien”– “Mint and LOTS of chips! And GREEN of course!”
John added, “What Patty, Ed and Adrian have grown at CCAC is amazing. We were there the first day the Pub opened. I called it from the beginning ‘The Patty Show,’ the place you wanted to be and support. It’s still the same today. The enclosed deck is just a great bonus! And the ‘give back’ to the community is wonderful to witness. Come to the ‘neighborhood’ and check them out. LOTS of SMILES!”