After 11 years as a restaurant that already has won the hearts and stomachs of Vassar College students, Babycakes Cafe plans to start feeding customers from a new location within the historic Poughkeepsie train station.
Metro-North officials announced Wednesday that they have selected the bistro-style eatery for a spot along the south wall of the restored landmark station. The business also will feature a "grab-and-go" kiosk in the station overpass offering coffee, baked goods and snacks at peak commuting hours, when some 900 railroad customers board southbound trains.
"We're starting with something small and see where it grows," said Kate McCormack, general manager for the restaurant, which is located across the street from the college. She said the addition would be the restaurant's first satellite location.
The existing concession area will be upgraded into a cafe with seating and a full menu of beverages and baked goods as well as hot and cold food selections, according to railroad officials.
"Metro-North is pleased to have attracted a tenant who will enliven the station area, extend hours of operations, improve commuter amenities and increase rental revenue," said Metro-North President Howard Permut. "The station is busier than ever and is used as much on weekends as it is during the week. Our customers deserve a delightful dining experience."
On a typical Saturday, 1,850 people board southbound trains. On Sunday, about 1,500 people get on trains at the station, Metro-North officials said. That does not count all the people who head to Poughkeepsie to visit Dutchess County's attractions, especially the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is just steps from the train station.
In the past decade, Metro-North has completely restored the station, adding a new terra-cotta tile roof and ornamental cornices, installing new monumental mahogany windows and doors and repairing the original brick facade. Interior upgrades, such as the restoration of the historic benches and wall paneling and the expansion of public restrooms, were carefully planned to support retail activity, railroad officials said.
Babycakes Cafe has agreed to a 10-year, $2,500-a-month lease with Metro-North and its parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The agreement gives the railroad 4 1/2 times more rent revenue at the station, according to Metro-North.