News & Insights

Jeffersonville Rebirth Continuing With Rebuilding of a Landmark Office


It’s been said not to mix business with pleasure.

But sometime in 2018, when a café/bakery will open on Main Street across from the firehouse and First Presbyterian church here, it will be a business with a romantic backstory for owners Lauren Seikaly and husband Michael Huber.

Seikaly and Huber most recently transformed the former Mullally’s Pub into Tavern on Main, which opened to great fanfare last month.

On that site, they also have Sprinkle’s Ice Cream parlor and 52 & Vine liquor store.

And while the interior of Tavern was being constructed over the summer, they opened a beer garden in the back.

The new café building will be erected on the site of the house and law office that for years was owned by attorney Jacob ‘Jay’ Epstein, who died a decade ago of a sudden heart attack.

But in that very building in 2002, Seikaly and Huber closed on their purchase of their first Sullivan County Catskills’ weekend home, in Ferndale, with Epstein as their attorney.

“We pulled up on the day of closing and parked the car right out front of his office front window,” Seikaly said. “Halfway through signing papers, Michael jumped up and ran to the car with no explanation. I found out later he was sweating bullets about the engagement ring he had left in the trunk.”

And after signing the closing documents in that office, Huber proposed to Seikaly the same day at their new home.

They married in October 2003.

“That office had a very special place in our hearts,” Seikaly said. “So it made me sad every time I walked by that office (in recent years) that it had fallen into disrepair and has basically been abandoned for ten years.”

Sometime in 2016, Seikaly walked out of Peck’s Market in Jeffersonville and found herself staring at the Epstein property across the street.

“There’s a building smack in the middle of Main Street and, what’s going to happen to this building?,” she thought. “It’s falling apart and it doesn’t seem like anybody is going to come in and take care of it.”

So they bought it.

“We were gutting the inside of the Epstein house, determining whether or not we could renovate it,” Seikaly said.

“Two contractors and an architect delivered the devastating news to us that we would be wise to tear it down and start over with something new,” she said. “A majority of the house was in such bad shape that we would spend the same amount of money fighting crooked walls and floors as we would spend creating a brand new beautiful structure. After some tears, we settled on the latter.”

The Epstein building was demolished last week, Seikaly said.

“I want to put a bakery in there. I want a place in Jeffersonville that I can come down and get a cup of coffee and a muffin. Or, an afternoon tea. So I started having these visions of what I thought Jeffersonville was missing. It was missing a gathering place for community,” she said.

Susan Davitt Flynn, owner of Jeff Junction, who is involved in many business and community activities, said, “The café would add to the exciting forward momentum that is happening in Jeffersonville right now.

“The past two years have seen two new ice cream stands, two new eateries, two retail shops, a beer garden and liquor store [open in Jeffersonville]. That is a lot of growth for one small town!”

Martin S. Miller, an attorney in Monticello who knew Epstein for three decades and also once had an office in Jeffersonville, also weighed in on the café plan.

“I would think that Jay would be genuinely pleased. He was a dedicated member of the community his entire life. And to see a vital activity taking place at [the site of] his former home and office that will bring pleasure to the community would delight him,” Miller said.