Updated: May 13, 2022
It pays to know people.
In 1988, Holly Sinatra, then Holly Snyder a 16 year-old worked as a server at Hyeholde Restaurant under the ownership of Carol and Pat Foy who purchased the property in 1974 by the original builders and owners, William & Clara Kryskill. Their seven-year labor of love to painstakingly build the property by hand began in 1931.
The restaurant was conveniently located in Sinatra's hometown, Moon Township, Pennsylvania.
Before the airports, before the corporate headquarter buildings, before the 911 Air Force base, there was Hyeholde Restaurant.
Kryskill promised his bride a castle, and well, he delivered.
After splitting time between Connecticut in the summer months honing hospitality skills and Moon Township building their castle, the Kryskills opened their French Country inspired restaurant in 1937.
Did I mention the restaurant was also their home?
According to Sinatra, let's call her Holly since she's my friend, the couple entertained diners in the same space where they raised their family.
Like in any home, instead of a coat room or rack, they simply had the children, two girls, place the guests' coats on the bed, where they lay waiting until patrons wining and dining on the best the area had to offer were finished eating.
Dishes like sherry bisque and prime beef, Hyeholde traditions, still grace the menu today.
The Foys’ contribution to Hyeholde was to convert it from a charming country restaurant, geared to serving limited numbers of guests into a sophisticated operation with an elaborate menu and fine wines, without losing the comfortable charm of a French country inn.
In 1991 Kryskill's daughter, Barbara and her husband, Quentin McKenna purchased the property and restaurant from the Foys and continued the tradition of fine dining in her gorgeous yet quant secret childhood home.
When you enter the property, driving up the tree lined road, you are taken to another country, perhaps France, or the English Countryside, or even, in the evening, Narnia. You leave the suburban streets of Moon to enter another world.
You'd be hard pressed to guess you were even still in southwestern PA. It's that enchanting. (Not that there is anything wrong with SW PA)
A Tour of Hyeholde
The mature trees of today may have only been saplings when Hyeholde first opened. It sits today on 4 acres of gardens and winding stone paths. Inside, great waxed beams, slate floors, stained glass windows, tapestries and crackling fireplaces create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Its little nooks and cranny spaces where tables sit privately create romantic atmosphere and ambience can be find throughout the space. Secret passage bookshelves lead to loft dining overlooking the grand hall. Everything seems so hodge-podge, yet so perfectly curated.
McKenna continued in her father's footsteps developing the grounds and outdoor space for al fresco dining and jazz on the lawn. The Round Room, recently refurbished by McKenna, sits off the lower level of the mid-century modern Frank Lloyd Wright inspired addition her father built as a home in the 1950s. The Foys connected the main house/restaurant to the mid-century house with a tunnel in 1986. The huge wall of windows enclosed the structure to bring the outdoor enchantment in for weddings and corporate events alike.
Holly shared stories from Carol and Pat’s Round Room cabaret where she saw Harry Connick, Jr and Etta Cox. She witnessed many grand weddings and events over her 30 plus years at Hyeholde. From the guests she's served to the ghost stories she's heard; she could write a book.
Holly is a current full time middle school teacher at Moon Area and works part-time at Hyeholde. She even has her children working with her from time to time. What better way to understand life than to wash dishes? Or serve others so to understand how to properly treat wait-staff. She understands life!
Humbled. That's what I am. For Holly shares her yearly dinner vouchers given to the staff with me. A banquet of deliciousness comes with great libations, beautiful ambiance and even better company, even if we go off on three tangents to come back 20 minutes later to the original conversation. She's a gem and I'm glad to call her my friend. See, it does pay to know people! (wink-wink)
I was able to try just about everything on the menu, including some special dishes sent out by Chef Chris O'Brien, back at Hyeholde after an 11-year hiatus, according to their website.
He continues the traditional favorites not only including his house made gravlax salmon, pickles, and sausages on the charcuterie plate, but also adds seasonal selections from local purveyors and even an homage to Ukraine with proceeds from those dishes going to Jose Andres "World Central Kitchen", an organization that helps disaster ridden places serving hot meals to those in need. To date Andres and WCK has feed 16 million meals and 8 million pounds of food to Ukraine families across their county.
Andres says "cooking and eating together is what makes us human".
Cooking and eating does bring people together...this blog is proof!
Chef O'Brien will continue to bring people together to eat at Hyeholde. His cuisine starts conversations and stops people in their tracks. It's that good. The tesseract of time travel back to when Hyeholde was built will also catapult us forward as Chef O'Brien continues his journey through creating, developing and cooking seasonal cuisine.
According to their website, Hyeholde is closing June 1, 2022 and will reopen September 6, 2022. I wonder what the future holds for Hyeholde Restaurant. Every chapter seems to make it better and better. I can only imagine the sky's the limit for this talented chef and his staff.
I guess we will see come September 6!