There’s a new restaurant in town, and its owner, Jeremy W. Ganter, says his goal is to offer something new, never seen before in the Thousand Islands.
At The Osprey Public House, located along Route 12E between Clayton and Cape Vincent, Ganter said he’s focused on offering fresh, vibrant Southern-inspired dishes in a clean, bright atmosphere.
Mr. Ganter, who was born and raised in and around Watertown, has spent his entire professional life working in restaurants and hospitality, from waiter to bartender, waiter to manager, in New York and Florida. Like many people, especially those working in the restaurant industry, Mr. Ganter’s entire professional life was turned upside down in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States hard.
“COVID was terrifying at first,” he said. “And my wife and I didn’t want to be stuck in Orlando, Florida with everything that was going on.”
Mr. Ganter, his wife and daughter decided to return to New York, where their families live, and chart a new course.
He said he didn’t even plan to go back to restoration when he returned to New York, but after moving into a nearby house, he and his wife continued to view the vacant building at 8353 County Route 9, where the Osprey Public House is today.
The building has housed many well-known restaurants over the years, and its newest version, Ray’s Pub and Grub, closed in 2019. Mr Ganter said he and his wife decided to look at the building and see what he looked like. like inside. Once he walked through the doors, his vision became a reality.
“I was still hesitant until I walked in and looked at the building,” he said. “Then I realized it was going to take a lot of effort on our part to clean it up.”
Mr. Ganter’s vision called for an overhaul of the entire restaurant. The floor has been completely redone, the walls have been removed, the windows have been restored and the two bathrooms in the buildings have been divided into four individual accessible toilets. Breaking with the norm, Mr. Ganter followed a farmhouse theme, as opposed to the nautical emphasis he says can be found in many local restaurants.
“I started looking around, ideas came to mind,” he said. “Take that wall down, put a bar in that space, put seats here and here and here. It just snowballed.
Mr. Ganter interviewed two chefs to run the kitchen and hired chef John Robson after producing a concept menu for the space he loved. Mr. Ganter and Mr. Robson worked together to create the menu offered today.
“The food is geared towards Southern comfort food, Cajun cuisine,” he said. “Chef John actually spent several years in North Carolina, so he’s got that southern style under his belt.”
The Osprey Public House menu includes rockefeller oysters and steamed mussels among its entrees. There is also a variety of sandwiches, crawfish, shrimp and oatmeal cakes, a pan-fried duck dish and flatbread pizzas. For dessert, you can find classic New Orleans donuts, sweet potato pie, and baby bananas.
With his experience as a bartender, Mr. Ganter said he is excited to create cocktails with ingredients that have never been seen before in the region. On their signature cocktail menu there is a smoked rum drink with maple wood chips, a gin drink with homemade strawberry simple syrup, and a classic whiskey cocktail, the Toronto , created in the 1920s.
“In the kitchen, we use fresh, farm-to-table ingredients whenever possible,” Ganter said. “I do the same with cocktails, from farm to glass.”
He said he was inspired by a desire to get people to taste new flavors, new combinations, and ingredients they had never experienced before.
The restaurant is open all year round, seven days a week. They offer their usual menu from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week, and a brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, before returning to their usual menu. until 10 p.m.
The restaurant also has a large private room for parties, and Ganter said he also wants to offer catering services in the future.
“It was a pretty amazing experience,” he said. “Cooking differently, which isn’t really the case here, we didn’t know what to expect. But it’s been great, the response has been fantastic and people are really enjoying our food.