LOWVILLE, N.Y. — Gary’s Restaurant, a local favorite and Lowville landmark that has been owned and operated by Ann Schneeberger and her family for nearly 47 years — has transitioned to new ownership. Representing the next generation, forward-looking local entrepreneur, Ashley Mayer-Hoch has taken ownership of the historic business under a new name, Crave Diner and Vanilla Bean Bake Shop.
Naturally Lewis had the pleasure of working with both Ann Schneeberger and Ashley Mayer-Hoch to assist with the transition through a variety of Lewis County Economic Development programs. In February 2021, Naturally Lewis became aware Ann was interested in selling Gary’s Restaurant. In partnership with the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) Center for Businesses in Transition (CBIT) Program, Naturally Lewis offers a variety of transition resources to business owners and works with the business owners to help find the right buyer.
The transition marks a new chapter for the Shady Ave restaurant, which was originally established as Gary’s Restaurant in 1975. Created as a family-owned business, the original namesake for Gary’s Restaurant was in reference to Ann Schneeberger’s brother, Gary. Ann is grateful for her many loyal customers, the community support and all the employees that called Gary’s home. “Without all of you [the community] our family would not have enjoyed the success of 47 years and endless memories and friendships that were made along the way,” said Ann.
Ann is looking forward to retirement and can rest assured that the Gary’s Restaurant legacy will live on in the community. “Ashley is going to take this business to another level,” said Ann. “We have grown Gary’s over the last 47 years, but Ashley has an opportunity to do bigger and better things that will bring creativity and newfound excitement to our community. I am excited to see what the future holds.”
Naturally Lewis, through the DBA Lewis County Entrepreneur Program began working with Ashley Mayer-Hoch back in July 2021. Ashley had a vision to expand her existing bakery business, Vanilla Bean Bake Shop. “Ashley at the very least wanted a storefront for Vanilla Bean Bake Shop, but her larger vision was to create a destination eatery that would offer a creative menu and a space for the community to gather,” said Jenna Lauraine, Programs and Partnerships Director at Naturally Lewis. “After suggesting a few vacant downtown storefronts, I also suggested that Gary’s Restaurant was for sale and would be an amazing turn-key opportunity.”
Ashley plans to keep the things the community loves most about Gary’s Restaurant – the same great menu and same great staff – while making some gradual changes that will incorporate the new brand, Crave Diner and Vanilla Bean Bake Shop. Ashley is happy to have Ann’s support for a few weeks as she passes the torch, “It is a lot to learn all at once and I am grateful to have Ann a mentor throughout the transition process and the support of a great staff.”
Ashley was also one of nine Lewis County businesses to receive a Launch Lewis County Grant to expand Vanilla Bean Bake Shop into the existing Gary’s Restaurant Space. The Launch Lewis Country Grant will provide furniture and fixture upgrades for Crave Diner and Vanilla Bean Bake Shop. “I am very excited to have a storefront for Vanilla Bean Bake Shop and introduce some new menu items to the community over time.” Ashley anticipates the storefront for the bake shop will be open at the beginning of 2023.
“Naturally Lewis is proud to support business ownership transitions, especially when it means preserving a historic downtown business,” said Jenna Lauraine. “Our partnership with the Center for Business in Transition program and the resources it provides, coupled with our Lewis County business support programs are truly making an impact in our communities.”
Crave Diner and Vanilla Bean Bake Shop, located at 5424 Shady Ave in Lowville is currently open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 8:00pm. “I am looking forward to extending our hours in the future, but in order to do so we need to continue to build our team,” said Ashley. Crave Diner is currently hiring for additional line cooks and wait staff. You can find them on Facebook at Crave Diner and Vanilla Bean Bake Shop, on Instagram @vanillabean.bakeshopny or call 315-874-4466. Be sure to check out their daily specials!