by Bill Batson
“Music is the light of the sun at night,” declares a mural on the back wall of this Casa del Sol. Legends of music, both local and far-flung, like Frankie Dee and Bernie Williams, regularly transform a few squares of floor into a magic carpet. A kitchen with a staff that have worked together for decades serve plates that generate testimonials on Yelp. Crowds of art lovers and drum circles fill rooms at monthly Casa hosted confabs. Many return because on the first visit, this casa will feel like yours.
Nyack Sketch Log sat down with owner, Tom Lynch to learn how the house of the sun was built.
How long has Casa been here?
Casa del Sol opened in Nyack in February 1997
What was here before?
Before it was Casa, it was a Middle Eastern cafe that was famous for their belly dancers.
Describe the first day you walked in?
One the first day we opened, it was a Saturday Night special invite dinner for friends and family. The construction workers were all there still building the bar. At 7 pm when the first guests started arriving, I was still sweeping up the saw dust while Chef Jorge was going over the menu with the staff.
How long have you been at Casa?
Along with myself (22 years), we have Alex (22 years), Juan (20 years), Efran (5 years), Amanda (10+), Carley (12), Elena (5+) & Anna (5+). I’m very fortunate
How did you come to own Casa?
In 2003, Gina the previous owner brought me on as full time manager. Prior to that I was working 3-4 shifts a week bartending. A few years later, she would always say “someday Tommy will buy Casa from me.” By 2013 we started talking more seriously about it and in September 2015 we did it!
Has music always been an important part of the scene?
There’s a mural in the back wall of the dining room that reads “Musica es la luz del sol en la noche”, which translate to “music is the light of the sun in the night”. Live Music has always been a huge part of the fabric of Casa del Sol. Over the years we’ve had some pretty big names perform. Grace Vandeerwal, (America’s Got Talent Winner) and Jermaine Paul (The Voice Winner) have both made appearances at our Thursday Night Casa Jam. Bernie Williams performed recently along with Gil Parris who is a Grammy nominated guitarist.
Those are all some big names and amazing musicians, however the artist that graced our stage that I am most proud of is Pedro Capo. Pedro won a Latin Grammy earlier this year and his latest music video “Calma Remix” has over 150 million Youtube views and counting. To us, he is not the Latin Superstar, he’s just Pedro, part of the Casa family, He worked at Casa on and off for 8 years and played countless shows with his band Rustico Acoustico and was one of original host of the Casa Jam.
What was the best set you’ve seen?
Pedro and Rustico Acoustico had some epic shows back in the day. Both No Discipline and Frankie Dee have been playing regularly at Casa for nearly 20 years. When ever ND plays, Casa turns into a full blown Reggae dance party. (ND will headline Casa’s New Year’s Party this year!)
Frankie Dee is a Nyack legend. His music will take you back in time to a blues club in the 60s or 70s. I’m proud to keep the tradition that he started at the Coven Cafe alive and dancing at Casa del Sol.
The new generation of bands include Dead Meat, Danielle Sheri & Mr Breakdown. All local artist with amazing talent that always draw a great crowd. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Dylan Kelehan.
Dylan has been our resident rocker over the years in many, many bands. He was also one of original host of the Casa Jam.
I often catch myself listening to our musicians and thinking how lucky I am to have them perform in my place.
I am proud that we still do not charge a cover charge for our bands!.
When did the Nyack Collective start holding their monthly exhibits here?
I’d like to think of Casa as a haven for both musicians and artist alike. We host the Nyack Art Collectives First Friday Art Show. The Collective is local group of super talented artist that exhibit their work, auction it off and generally just get together for food and drinks and to display their craft.
Glenn Schloss and his group For Vibration put together a Drink-n-Drum on the 2nd Friday of every month. D&D is a Drum circle and unfortunately any description will not do it justice. Its an experience!!!! Glenn creates a spiritualistic, almost trance-like combination of music, dancing and drumming.
On the 1st Saturday of every month the Rockland Poets host a Poetry Slam. This energetic group is fully organized with judges, scoring and cash prizes.
Nyack Pop-up Chorus is the newest group calling Casa home. They pick an musician or theme and meet up once a month on a Sunday for an evening of singing. They request a small donation to help pay for their band. Its always a fun event for vocalist and the casual singer. Recently they’ve performed songs from the Beatles, Cat Stevens and Tom Petty.
What is your favorite dish?
Picking my favorite dish on the menu is like picking my favorite kid. I’ve always been a “seafood guy” so i would probably pick the Fish Tacos. We change them every week. Some recent favorites were Mahi-Mahi in a Caribbean Jerk-Brown Sugar Sauce w/ Grilled Pineapple and Southern Fried Catfish w/ Red Cabbage Slaw and Srirachi Mayo.
Some of of newer items on the Casa Menu are Sonoran Style Hot Dogs. The Baja Dog is a jumbo hot dog topped w/ chorizo, Mont Jack Cheese, Onions, & Pickled Jalapeños. The Tijuana Dog is a jumbo dog wrapped in bacon and jalapeños, w/ mayo, avocado, pico-de-gallo and cotija cheese.
What are some of the challenges of running a small business in Nyack?
I’d say the biggest challenge of owning a small business in Nyack is dealing with the elements. Trying to get people to come out in the rain, snow or cold weather is always difficult.
What do you do as a Nyack Chamber of Commerce Board member?
I’m entering my 3rd year as a Nyack Chamber of Commerce Board member. The thing that I appreciate most about the Chamber is that we’re always looking to improve on our organization as a whole and all of our events. I feel that as a group, we are all open to fresh ideas and a different ways of thinking or doing things. Along with Melody Patrick, from the Village Parks Department, we put together Nyack’s Earth Day Festival. Earth Day is family friendly festival filled with music, vendors and interactive events for children. Nyack Earth Day Festival 2019 is scheduled for April 27th
What’s your favorite drink to mix?
My favorite drink seems to change every couple of months. Right now its a ‘Mexican Mule’ made with Casamigos Blanco Tequila, Ginger Beer and lime juice.
Stop by Casa for a Nyack Sketch Log Pop-Up Store on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon until 8p. Gift items include books, mugs, t-shirts, cards, decals, hats and tote bags.
Casa del Sol is located at 104 Main Street or visit casaofnyack.com
Nyack Sketch Log, Volume 2 is now available at Pickwick Book Shop, Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center, Hickory Dickory Dock, Archive Home and the Nyack Farmers Market or at nyackgift.com.
Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketch logs in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Casa del Sol“ © 2018 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com