A server has fond memories of the Highlands Restaurant

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Light in the night: Evenings at The Highlands Restaurant and Tavern on the Berne-Altamont Road lit up the darkened sky with headlights, neon signs, and the bustle of customers inside. Now, the 1780s’ farmhouse is a quiet scene. The establishment closed this month after eight years, its website reports, due to economic pressures. Through different owners, the location has been a restaurant for several decades, with the earliest Enterprise announcement of the Helderberg Kiwanis Club meeting there in 1964. Starting in 2006, Chef Sheena Tymchyn and Michelle Catalano ran the restaurant with their father, Paul Schneider, who died in 2010.

To the Editor:

The closing of the Highlands has evoked bittersweet memories. Many people passed through its doors. Some we know, many we didn’t.

During the eight years the restaurant was open, it became a meeting place for many. If you didn’t know each other, in time you did.

Some got the honor of being called “our regulars.” For those who passed away, a memorial was placed on the wall in the tavern just to let friends and family know they are forever remembered.

Trivia games and puzzles could be seen at the bar and on the tables throughout the tavern. Then, there was the drink of the night; this was when Mae (the bartender) passed a drink book around.

It was up to a customer to open it, flip through the pages, stop point and then Mae made it.

Everyone got to sample it. It was either thumbs up or “Yuk, pick another.”

This is when I found my favorite. I don’t remember the name but it was a little of this, a little of that, followed by a shot of coconut rum. Yummy!  Thanks Mae, for finally finding something I like.

The best memory for me was meeting “Pops.” He was a man of many stories that everyone loved to hear. Everyone waited for “Pops” to come down at the end of the evening to fill us in on one more adventure he encountered. I always sat next to Pops.

I will never forget the first time Pops ordered calamari for dinner. I looked at his plate and said, “Oh my god, what the hell is that?”

He laughed and told me, “try it; you’ll like it.” I put my hand over my mouth.

Oh no I won’t. Those look like legs and those circles, I don’t think so.”

Every time Pops sat by me, he ordered calamari. Finally, I gave in after weeks of Pops bugging me.

I closed my eyes, opened my mouth, and, sure enough, Pops got me to try calamari.

Now, he could have broken me in slowly with the body-circle parts but, oh no, I got the long squilly legs first. It was chew, chew, hurry up, swallow, followed by whatever I could find! 

We both laughed, no one knew what we were laughing at. It was our secret.

To this day, I order calamari out and every bite I remember Pops and our little secret. I love and miss ya forever, Pops!

I had many laughs in the kitchen and the menu. Now, you’re talking to a girl whose starches consist of mashed potatoes and French fries.

Sheena, the cook, loved to throw fancy starches at me. My comment to her was, “What the hell is that and, if I can’t say it, how can I sell it?”

I’m not quite sure who laughed more.

Then, there were the customers. Now, to remember the menu and the specials it was entertaining.

When I couldn’t say or remember them, the customers either laughed or filled me in on what they wanted. Followed by me saying to Sheena, “And, oh yeah, one of those please”!

Now the attire was white shirt, black pants, black sneakers, and this is where my nightmare started. Yup it was a girlie thing called a “Bra”.

To most girls, they have a purpose. For me, they are just more laundry and they make me HcH! But I wore one.

To this day, I still only have a black one. Oh yeah, poor Michele spent months telling me I had to get a white one; it looks better.

Then, for the final sister, there is Diane. I like to think of her as the mother hen to all. She was the wiser one, and always tried to make sense of things.

Let’s see, she had a job 9 to 5 Monday to Friday and weekends off. Yep, she was smarter but was always at the restaurant to fill in and help out.

In my closing, I wish the best for Sheena, Michele and Diane. Thanks for the eight years of good food, fond memories and a place for all to hang out.

So, for my mid-life crisis, I’m off to buy a lottery ticket so I can buy the Highlands and once again eat calamari with Pops looking over my shoulder saying, “You can do it!”

Thanks for the memories

Barbara Kennedy

East Berne