Friday, February 15, 2013

Lacking a buyer, Tory Tavern set to close

George Mann Tory Tavern
SCHOHARIE -- One of the region's finest examples of historical renovation and a gem in the dining scene will close in August when its owners retire.

The George Mann Tory Tavern, a beautiful brick structure that dates to the 16th Century, was purchased in 1977 by Ralph and Irmgard Buess, then spent years restoring it.

They have been unable to find a buyer for the business, but plan to go ahead with their retirement plans at the end of the summer.

Meanwhile, the tavern remains up for sale at a $599,000 asking price.

Here's an excerpt from the first review I wrote about the tavern, for the Times Union back in 1995:

"Luckily for us, George Mann's neighbors didn't consider him such a bad guy even though he had this thing about staying loyal to King George. Mann ran a tavern in the 18th Century at the intersection of a pair of toll roads here in the Schoharie Valley where he made a tidy living providing lodging and food for travelers to and from Albany and Schenectady. By the time 1776 rolled around, he'd been jailed for his Tory leanings, but he never lost the house and surrounding farm.

"Ralph and Irmgard Buess bought the place about two centuries later, intent on restoring it. Anyone who knows them knows they don't do anything halfway, so after 14 years of painstaking work they have a place that is truly remarkable. For the past five years, they've operated the restaurant they call the George Mann Tory Tavern.

"The Buesses have lavished heart and soul on the structure and its appointments. Visitors are greeted by the sight of a tall brick building set on a small hill dotted with lovely gardens. The warm interior is divided into a series of small dining rooms, each in a different color, but all in keeping with the period mood accented by handwrought copper chandeliers, old oil paintings, and Irmgard's superb stencil works. Downstairs, a stone fireplace dominates the snug tavern room. Waitstaff dons period costumes.

"The Buesses themselves are worth knowing. Ralph, a native of Delmar, is a 1967 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who honed his skills at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown and the Mohawk Club in Schenectady. He also taught culinary arts for a number of years at nearby SUNY Cobleskill College.

"Irmgard, a native of Cherry Valley, is a true craftsperson who works at the tavern as well as teaching at Cobleskill, where she set up the college's data processing center. Her handiwork also is evident in the linens and drapes throughout the structure.
"The Buesses also tend the flower and herb gardens and run the business end of the operation, as well as giving impromptu tours to gawking visitors when time permits. They, apparently, last slept around 1985."

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