Interview with Danielle Freer of Hot Shotz Pub & Grill in Kerhonkson, New York.
LIVELIHOOD:When did you open your business? Was there anything specific that prompted you to start your business at that moment?
Danielle Freer: I started Hot Shotz in 2007 after being in the business since I was 21. I founded it really just because I love people! I like getting to know their personalities, and basically seeing them at their best and their worst. You get to hear stories about their lives and meet different people that come along with them. This April we will be in business for 10 years.
LH: What makes your business unique from competitors?
DF: We are extremely community oriented and love to give back whenever we possibly can. Also, we take into consideration that sometimes, money’s tight for people, so we have really good specials for people who may not be able to afford to go to a fancy place or something that’s more high-end. We do all-you-can-eat tacos, we’ll do $6.99 boneless wings and fries… We really take people who are on a budget into consideration—and that’s just caring for the people. We also won the Hudson Valley Wing bowl a couple times so we pride ourselves on our wings and other food.
LH: How would you like to see your business grow?
DF: Basically I would like to turn it into more of a restaurant. It’s been a bar since the 1950s, so it brings on some nostalgia for people who are older and were around to go here back then. It has really come a long way. I want to redo the siding, give it more of that restaurant feel so that people who do think it’s just a bar don’t think that anymore. It started off in the 1950s as Schooner’s milk bar, they served ice cream and milk but had a real Whiskey bar in the back. Then in the ‘60s, it was Herman’s, so among all the years it’s got a lot of history and has housed a lot of good times for people.
LH: What is your favorite part about what you do?
DF: Like I said, we are very community oriented and love giving back whenever we possibly can! Holding events that bring people together to have a good time is my favorite part. One of my favorites to date was last year’s Christmas event. For years, we never had any Christmas lights around Kerhonkson, so it was really dark and desolate during the holidays. Last year, I finally said “I’m tired of this, let’s do our own Christmas lights!” So I went out and bought garland, I strung Christmas lights all the way up and down the road, and set up an area to host a Christmas event.
We even did a tree lighting, which has never been done in Kerhonkson before. We blocked off the street in front of Hot Shotz, had flashing lights and music playing, everyone was dancing and having a wonderful time. I still have people asking me if it’s going to happen again – and yeah, we’re doing it again! We turned the area into Christmas Lane and you could see it coming in from Route 209. Almost 1,000 people showed up and it was just amazing.
I put it together in three weeks and it went so well. I love Kerhonkson, I love the people here, I think the area is really special so I wanted the town to have what every other town gets… and sometimes that means doing it yourself to make a difference.
LH: How does your business fit into the larger movement to revitalize the Hudson Valley?
DF: We do a lot of community events to give back to our little town. A big one going on this year will be our Festival of Heroes on September 10. It is a day geared toward all law enforcement, firefighters and military personnel. The sheriff’s department is coming down with a dive tank to do demonstrations on how they save people from the water, there’s going to be K-9 demonstrations, WRWD (the local country music station) is going to be here, and we are raffling off a fully loaded Nissan Altima with a two year lease. There will be lots of vendors, music and fun for our local heroes, their families and friends, and the whole community to enjoy.
LH: What measures do you and your business take to support local economy?
DF: I buy local produce with Currents. I recently went to Kelder’s Farm for the first time and bought local produce for my business; everything was fresh, farm to table.
I actually was very nervous to use Currents because I had never used them before outside of here. It was probably something I would have never done if I didn’t have the Current. Us business owners don’t get out much, but that day I was able to. When I was there I met the owner of Kelder’s – I’ve been here 10 years and didn’t even know who he was! That goes to show you that the Current brings people together and just gives you stuff you can bring to your business that you would never have done before. I get produce for salads and wraps, like tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and a couple other dips and dressings.
LH: How have you been using Currents in your business? And/or how do you plan to use them?
DF: I would like to get a vertical garden, which I can pay for with Currents. I read about it in Country Wisdom News and instantly wanted to get one for the patio at Hot Shotz. That way we can grow some fresh herbs to use. I also use Currents to pay for advertising in Country Wisdom News. In terms of accepting them as payment, we accept 50 Currents per week. We don’t accept more than that right now, but I am going to eventually.
I think I’m one of the first restaurants/bars on board with the Current in the area, which is nice because you’re part of the program that keeps you in tune with what it does and its values. Without the Current, I never would have gone out during work hours and met the owner of Kelder’s to get their produce; I would have made a call out to my distributor and have it delivered. Having the farm to table is huge—it’s great for the business, great for your body, and it’s keeping it local. It’s just amazing.