When Italian trattoria Tiso’s in Mt. Tremper closed at the end of 2015, half a century’s worth of fans lamented the loss of one of the Catskills’ beloved family-run restaurants.
After two generations of owners and sitting empty for a year, the building at 5327 Route 212 is embarking on a new future under the stewardship of local musician Jeremy Bernstein, who plans to turn it into a restaurant and lodge called The Pines. A native of Woodstock, Bernstein has long been a fixture of the Catskills music scene, recording and performing solo and with a combination of other musicians and bands in venues like the Bearsville Theater and the Ashokan Center over more than two decades.
The singer-songwriter, who also has a background in carpentry, has now turned his attention to a big culinary project, buying the Mt. Tremper building from Joseph and Margaret Tiso in August, according to Ulster County land records. It was purchased for $240,000 under the name Bernstarr LLC, a corporation of which Bernstein is the sole member and whose address is his home in neighboring Chichester. The property includes a 65-seat restaurant, upstairs apartments and 3.4 acres, according to public documents.
An application for a permit to serve beer, wine and liquor at The Pines was filed with the New York State Liquor Authority on Dec. 16.
Bernstein did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but over on Instagram, he offers friends and fans a sneak peek of his kitchen and dining room. Posts depict him donning a chef’s toque and coat and chronicling ongoing renovations, such as replastering 100-year-old walls and prying up linoleum to reveal heart-pine floors in a commitment to preserve the past while setting the stage for a new chapter.
“Bernstein is about as Catskills as you can get,” The Woodstock Times wrote about him in a 2012 profile. “His songs know just where to land in these the hills, they were born here with him, and they know all the shortcuts — connecting one valley to the next.”
Most recently, Bernstein’s musical projects have included two albums under his nickname/stage name, Burnell Pines. Tracks like “The Catskills Stole My Heart” “take us along, skinny-dipping and laughing in the tall grass, name-checking Woodstock streets over a swampy groove,” according to Bernstein’s website bio.
In his Burnell Pines persona, Bernstein also represented the Catskills in Paris last year, performing in a show curated by the Colette boutique — a cross-Atlantic event covered in both the New York Times and Vogue magazine.
“I love it here in Woodstock. I’ve traveled all over the world and there is nothing quite like it,” he told the Woodstock Times four years ago. “The community, the land, the mountains, and the fresh water… we are so close to New York City and yet so far away. We have access to everything we need.”