Gabriel Boivin doesn’t mind being called grouchy.
“One thing that really bothers me is stupid questions,” he says, displaying his typical 'grouchy' humor. “Like, someone will ask ‘Are you reading the newspaper now?' I’m like ‘Yes, I’m sitting in front of one. What do you think I’m doing? I’m not shaving!”
So, when someone called Boivin a grouch a few years ago, the Argentina-born, Uruguay-raised Cortlandt resident laughed and came up with a new name for the former deli he had recently purchased in Croton-on-Hudson—He called it .
The name was interesting enough to attract some new customers. But that wasn’t the only thing that set Grouchy Gabe’s apart. With its creative paninis, sandwiches, salads and more, Grouchy Gabe’s went beyond the typical deli fare offered by previous owners.
Boivin, a former restaurant owner who also spent years working as a chef in impressive Manhattan establishments including the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, wanted to add an upscale twist to the shop he bought “as a Christmas present” to himself and his wife after closing his last restaurant. “I got the opportunity to buy this little place in a quaint part of the Croton village and I jumped on it,” the father of two tells us.
Going from a restaurant to a small grill has its positives (less overhead) and negatives (a bit less room to experiment), but Boivin still finds plently of creative outlets at Grouchy Gabe’s. Take his soups, for example. “I put a lot of myself in the soups that I make,” he says.
Another way Boivin keeps thing interesting? The art lover, who first befriended rising artists when he moved to America as a young man and lived in The Village in Manhattan, invites local artists to exhibit their artwork inside Grouchy Gabe’s. After the creative business move led to an article in The New York Times in 2008, Boivin kept the art exhibits going for local customers to enjoy. is from Abe Birnbaum, a former New Yorker Magazine artist who lives in Croton.
With so much going on at Grouchy Gabe’s, it’s no wonder the small establishment is going strong almost six years after its opening. A measure of success for Boivin? “When people are here and they call for a taxi and they say, ‘Where are you?’ and the customer says ‘Grouchy Gabe's,’ the taxi knows where to come,” he says. And Boivin is proud to have made it this far. “We’re like the little train that could,” he says. “We keep puffing, puffing, puffing and trying to get a little higher up the hill.”
Gabriel Boivin is behind the business at Grouchy Gabe's Grill at 8 Old Post Road in Croton-on-Hudson. The preceding story was a Patch encore.