While Jacob Friehling was learning to bake bread in Jackson, Wyoming, his brother Benji was busy earning a degree in sustainable agriculture and green building in Vermont. Both felt the pull of their family roots in Bethel, NY, and together decided to combine their skills to create a unique business that would be sustainable in a small town.
They wound up building what may be the world’s first wood-fired oven on an old jet ski trailer. It was ideal for making pizza at local events and farmers’ markets and, when the demand became so high, they built another, bigger oven and opened their restaurant, Benji and Jake’s, in Kauneonga Lake. It’s a beloved spot that attract locals and visitors to the region that the brothers are happy to once again call home.
The restaurant has two decks overlooking the lake, making it ideal for sunset diners. In addition to a wide array of pizzas featuring ingredients from local farms, patrons are free to invent their own combinations. The menu also includes fresh, natural foods like roasted chicken from Murray’s Organic and the popular fried tofu triangles.
Upstairs, a full bar serves micro-brews and specialty cocktails, and there’s a stage for live music during the summer. Benji and Jake’s recently opened an outdoor beer garden on the property next door and it’s the perfect place to gather around the campfire or sit and eat lakeside on summer weekends. If New York is, arguably, the pizza capital of the world, there’s no doubt that Benji and Jake’s is the pizza capital of the Catskills.5 Horseshoe Lake Road, Kauneonga Lake, NY 12749