Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Local friends join forces to create the Copperhead Club

Peekskill’s newest bar’s soft opening on July 4th
The Copperhead Club crew: from left to right, Kacie Wilson, Rob Blatt, Meg Blatt, Carolyn Mosher, Rocco Fultz, and Zach Moore. (Photo by Steve Pavlopoulos)

When Sue’s Sunset House closed its doors on May 15, Peekskill lost an iconic (and literal) corner bar. But, thanks to Kacie Wilson (36), Carolyn Mosher (26), Zach Moore (37), Rocco Fultz (28), Meg Blatt (37) and Rob Blatt (42), the city is getting another cozy destination tavern in the same spot. Together, the six friends have put in over 2500 hours renovating, painting, and preparing for the grand opening of the Copperhead Club at 137 North Water Street in Peekskill. 

Their goal is to open their doors to the public on July 4 for a preview – just in time for the annual fireworks celebration on the waterfront. After the holiday, they’ll close to the public for a few days to put on the finishing touches, aiming to be fully operational by Thursday July 11.

The concept is a “Beer Food Drink” establishment and when I visited back in June (they were just 21 days into the project), the team was hard at work making the space their own. They are all excited about joining the Peekskill small business community as owners and their arrival on the scene comes after being part of the Peekskill food and beverage world for years. 

It all started when Kacie, Carolyn, Zach, and Rocco had logged enough hours in the industry to take the next step and open up their own place. Between the four of them, their local bona fides are comprehensive and impressive. They built up their chops at Cortlandt Colonial, Birdsall House, Gleason’s, Sue’s Sunset House, The Central, Fulgum’s, Peekskill Brewery, and Kyle’s Pub. In 2020, they met Brooklyn transplants Rob and Meg Blatt and the idea grew into something that felt more like a real possibility.

Photo taken at the outdoor patio behind the bar are: left to right, Rocco Fultz, Kacie Wilson, Rob Blatt, Meg Blatt, Carolyn Mosher and Zach Moore. (Photo by Steve Pavlopoulos)

When Sue decided to retire from Sunset after 24 years in business, she reached out to Carolyn in December to see if they were interested in taking on the space. Kacie said their response was an immediate, “Yes!” Kacie has known Sue her, “entire life,” she said. And Carolyn worked for Sue from 2018 to 2021, so the group has strong roots in this unique location. “[Sue] had always said, ‘One day, you’re gonna buy this bar,’” Carolyn explained. Sue seems to have found the perfect heirs who will carry on the legacy of a welcoming establishment with good food and fun for the next generation.

Rob and Meg came to Peekskill in 2020 from Brooklyn. “One of the first sets of people we met here was Carolyn, Kacie and Rocco,” Rob said. “We met at Gleason’s.” Rob said he made an “offhanded joke about opening a place in town” to Carolyn and when Carolyn said, “Talk to Kacie,” they were off and running. By the beginning of 2023, the group began focusing on a business plan and creative vision to bring the idea to life. 

As the director of food, Zach is focused on creating a menu consisting of comfort cuisine without labels. He describes it as, “Things that people want to eat every day, change it up seasonally with ingredients and if it’s 12 in the afternoon or 2 A.M., there’s always something available.” From SPAM fries to a mushroom banh mi, the goal of the menu is to offer a variety of items that appeal to anyone looking for a tavern experience on Water Street.

Rob Blatt and Rocco Fultz putting the finishing touches on the tap beer dispenser. The Copperhead Club will feature domestic and craft beers.

When asked who is responsible for the drink menu, Kacie laughed saying, “That’s all of us. That’s what we love.” They’re excited to work on homemade syrups, bitters, and mixers: “If I can make it better than we can buy it, we do it,” Kacie explained. “You’ll see a lot of craft beer, lots of domestic beer, we’re going to have something for everyone.”

As far as getting into the Peekskill food and beverage scene as owners, Kacie said, “It’s really exciting, we have so much support. Everybody’s reaching out every day with, ‘Do you need this? Do you need that? What do you need?’ We’ve been a part of that [Peekskill restaurant community] and now it’s like we kind of graduated.”

They all appreciate being a bit off the beaten path. “To be a destination bar/restaurant comes with its challenges,” Rob explained. “You’re not as walkable as downtown hub of all the tight-knit, close bar hopper style restaurants. You’re going to have to want to come here. We’re gonna be first stop or last stop.” There’s another big benefit to their unique location. Rob said, “We also have this whole parking lot where you don’t have to really worry about where you’re going to park (making it an easy place to visit).” 

A complete transformation of the interior has taken shape over the past few months.

The Copperhead Club moniker was born out of two unsuccessful rounds of blind voting in which the six owners suggested names, put them into a spreadsheet independently ranked them. According to Kacie, the bar name was, “Probably the hardest thing” the group had to decide on. They knew they wanted to be a club and liked the idea of alliteration but nothing seemed to resonate.

About a week after the fruitless votes, Rob suggested “Copperhead Club” on a group call and they all liked it. Kacie said once they found the right fit and leaned into it, it made perfect sense because, “Sue always had the copper top on the bar and all these copper accents, so it was like the name was always there.”

Rob summed up what he sees as their biggest strength: understanding the city and having the experience to create something new that will feel right at home here in Peekskill. “Overall for what we’re doing,” he said, “there’s so much experience around this table that has basically built a lot of that culture that exists in the central hub or down in station square, that we’re able to offer something that we know fits in, but also winds up being a little bit different and ends up being another piece in the greater puzzle in terms of what Peekskill offers rather than a repeat of an existing concept.”

To make this new concept possible, the six friends have put a lot of thought into the vibe they are creating. Carolyn described their vision as a cocktail bar and dive mash up where there’s a, “mix [of] that grandpa’s basement bar feel with a little bit of glam and fun,” and you’ll see, “Budweiser sconces mixed with crystal chandeliers and wood paneling mixed with a little cheetah print.” If you are following along on Instagram, you can see their progress and get all the updates on the holiday preview and official opening.

Three of the owners display what sweat equity looks like as they work on the interior.

The collective decided to reach out to the community with an IndieGoGo campaign in which contributors could activate their Copperhead Club memberships through donations. Members receive swag bags and different levels of membership come with a variety of merch and perks (the highest being a $5,000 donation titled, “Our Urinal, Your Name!” which gets you a plaque above the urinal in the dedication or memory of the donor’s choosing along with a dedication ceremony). To date, they have raised over $16,000 which is well over their initial goal of $10,000. According to Rob, “If we hit $20,000, we’re having a karaoke party for our backers.” To make that happen (or to sponsor the illustrious urinal), check out the campaign on the IndieGoGo website. 

Kacie has the focus of someone on a mission. She said, “I wrote my first business plan 12 years ago, and had a few failed attempts of locking down a location for a place of my own over the years. Copperhead Club is not that original plan, but it has definitely grown from it. When Rob and Meg found out that I had this plan, and it was an actually good one, I knew we were on to something. It took some time and a few failed attempts again at locations, but it all fell into place with Sue retiring.” She called their opening date of July 4th, “ambitious” and is happy that it gives them a definite goal to work towards. Be on the lookout for a big celebration at The Copperhead Club to coincide with the 4th of July fireworks spectacular at Riverfront Green. 

About the Contributor
Steve Pavlopoulos
Steve Pavlopoulos is a freelance writer, producer and journalist based in Cortlandt. After various stints in music and pop culture-related video programming, he enjoys contributing to local news and covering the people, places and events that make Peekskill a "friendly town" and so much more. A native of Clinton, Connecticut (the Bluefish Capital of the World), Steve graduated from UConn where he definitely did not play basketball (despite attending every home game his freshman year). He is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library and once flew halfway around the world covering a pop superstar's 7 show tour of 7 countries in 7 days.