The Red Apple Rest in Tuxedo, New York
The Red Apple Rest is a closed restaurant on New York State Route 17 in Tuxedo, New York. In its day, it was a busy and popular roadside eatery and rest area for people traveling from New York City to the Catskills region of New York.
The restaurant was opened in May of 1931 by Reuben Freed and was sold to Peter Kourakos and his family in 1985. The Kourkos family continued to run the restaurant for another 21 years.
The Red Apple Rest was closed in 2006, and the building was condemned in January of 2007 due to roof damage. The damage is repairable, however, and the building still stands.
I shot the drone video toward the bottom of this page on July 31, 2021. You can scroll down to watch the video if you like, but I'm going to take a few moments to provide a bit of history about the Red Apple Rest for those who are interested.
Prior to the opening of the New York State Thruway in the early 1950s, State Route 17 was how folks from New York City and New Jersey got to the Catskills resorts.
It was a long ride, ranging from four to six hours depending on the traveler's exact starting point and which resort they were heading to. The Red Apple Rest's location made it an ideal place for tourists heading to the Catskills resorts to empty their bladders and fill their bellies.
In its heyday, the always-open Red Apple Rest in Tuxedo, New York was a hugely-popular eatery for both tourists and Borscht Belt comedians and entertainers. The latter used it as a place to talk shop, as well as catch a late-night meal after their routines.
If a tourist timed their visit just right, they might just run into some of the greatest entertainers who ever lived talking about their routines, testing out new jokes, or just enjoying a meal.
Even after the Thruway opened, the portion of NY-17 running through Tuxedo remained reasonably busy both because of shunpikers who preferred the longer drive on Route 17 to paying the Thruway tolls, and because the Catskills resorts were located west of the Thruway. Many tourists hopped off the Thruway at Harriman and continued on to their resort destinations using NY-17.
The Red Apple Rest also attracted business in its own right even after the Thruway opened. This was partly due to nostalgia, partly because of the chances of running into someone famous (one might say it was the Catskills' answer to Elaine's), and partly because the food sold at the Thruway service areas back then was both expensive and inedible. (Trust me on that.)
By the 1970s, however, business had begun to fall off. Most of the Catskills resorts had closed, and the few remaining ones were on the ropes. A combination of air travel and economic factors made more-exotic vacation destinations accessible to Downstate folks. Except for hunters, fishermen, and skiers, interest in the Catskills as a getaway destination faded away.
As the Catskills tourism industry declined, so did the Red Apple Rest's main source of patrons. Fewer travelers passing through town meant fewer full bladders and empty bellies begging for relief.
Gone also were the legendary entertainers one might happen to run into at the Red Apple Rest. They followed the tourists to more fashionable destinations to ply their crafts.
In a testimony to the perseverance and hard work of the Kourakos family and their appreciation of the building's historical significance, the Red Apple Rest managed to stay open for another three decades after the Catskills resort industry collapsed, serving mainly local residents, shunpikers, and the many bikers who still ride NY-17.
But in the end, that wasn't enough to keep the restaurant profitable. The Red Apple Rest closed its doors in September of 2006, and was condemned in 2007 due to roof damage.
The building is repairable and is available for sale or lease. I spoke to a member of the Kourakos family while I was shooting the video, and I was impressed by his respect for the building and its history. I think most people would have knocked it down by now. I'd love for it to re-open.