By Sandy Waters
Photo by Larkin Ryan
What’s old is new at the original schoolhouse in the charming village of Naples. Trish Aser and Joe Scardilla, owners of Brown Hound Downtown, bring their culinary talents to the Finger Lakes in a reimagined historic space, aptly named Old School.
The “old” is literal—the structure is over 140 years old and originally served as a one-room schoolhouse, educating from 40–80 students in grades 1 through 8. Located in Naples’s original town square, the building has also housed the town library, a patent office, a lawyer’s office, an art gallery, retail shops and private residences.
This latest reincarnation is a tribute to the passion, planning and craftmanship of partners and co-owners Aser and Scardilla. While still maintaining full-time ownership and management of the Brown Hound Downtown at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery, the couple has tackled the renovation largely on their own. Scardilla took the building down to its skeleton and then rebuilt it to make it structurally sound for the new eatery. The walls are adorned with educational artifacts: maps, a series of vintage school charts and the periodic table of elements. It was all done with integrity to the schoolhouse theme, resulting in an attractive and stimulating setting.
Aser and Scardilla earned their restaurant chops the “old school” way: through hard work, experience and perseverance. Aser owned and operated a much-loved South Bristol eatery, The Brown Hound Bistro, for 10 years. When it closed in 2016, Aser and Scardilla moved the bistro to Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery as The Brown Hound Downtown. Scardilla’s family owned and operated the Conesus Inn and a catering stint with Lorraine’s Lunch Basket serving rock bands on concert tours adds color to his restaurant experience.
It all adds up to the promise of a casual eat-in or takeout experience with a focus on pastries, lighter fare breakfast and brunch items, quality coffee and espresso, as well as a full bar. Old School will be open mornings through late afternoons. Aser and Scardilla will also make their space available for pop-up dinners, small events and private parties.
Old School has potential for growth. The lot is an ample 1.4 acres with road frontage on N. Main Street. Future plans include patio space for outdoor dining and accommodations for events. It is a shared goal of Aser and Scardilla to take advantage of the many relationships they have developed with other passionate and talented restaurateurs to collaborate on bringing new culinary adventures to Old School and Naples.
“We are so excited to bring Old School to life in Naples,” enthused Aser. “And we are amazed at how warm and welcoming everyone has been to us. This community really has an eye to future growth.”
This is a coming-home story for Aser and Scardilla, and the experience they deliver to their customers will be one where the total will be more than the sum of the parts. That’s the new rules and new math of Old School.
196 N Main St, Naples, (585) 531-4153, oldschoolcafeny.com
Sandy Waters is a happily retired wine distributor with a renewed love of all things Finger Lakes