Archive | January, 2021

Meet the new Cobblestone on Main restaurant, opening soon

30 Jan

The Village of Webster’s newest restaurant — Cobblestone on Main — will be opening soon, and I know I’m not the only one excited about it. 

Judging from the conversations I’ve been hearing from friends and on social media, a lot of people have been keeping an eye on the historic cobblestone building at 109 West Main St. as it’s been renovated over the last many months. The main rumors I heard swirling around was that it was going to be a brewpub, or maybe a high-end restaurant. Turns out, it’s neither — but a little of both.  

When The Cobblestone on Main opens several weeks from now, patrons will find a comfortable, reasonably-priced restaurant for those looking for a hearty lunch or dinner, and a dozen taps behind the long bar, hosting several local and regional brews. 

Dan, Sarah and Lynne Bresnahan

The Cobblestone is the culmination of a dream for Dan Bresnahan and his daughter Sarah, who will be teaming up to run the new establishment. Together with Dan’s wife Lynne, the Bresnahans, who are long-time Webster residents, are excited to bring their family-run restaurant to the village they call home. 

Their journey began a little over a year ago, when Dan and Sarah happened to drive by the historic old cobblestone. Greg Chambery, owner of The Maplewood nursing home, owned that building as well and had already begun renovations. It got them thinking about their longtime dream of opening a restaurant. 

“We had seen what was happening on the east side of the building with the new porch and roof line,” Dan said. “I said to Sarah, if we’re thinking of doing this, that’s the kind of place we need to find.”

It turned out that Sarah had grown up with Chambery’s daughter. Fate clearly had a plan for them. So last January, Dan met with Chambery and a deal was struck. 

And then Covid hit. 

Chambery had made significant improvements to the outside of the building, but had stripped the inside down to studs and bare stone. There was an amazing amount of work to do before the Bresnahans could open their doors to the public. But thanks to the pandemic, they couldn’t even begin their renovations until July. 

Instead of getting discouraged, they chose to look on the bright side.  

“That time period from early spring till July really provided us with the opportunity to think through logistics for such an old building,” Dan said. “What are all the things we needed to do to accommodate the public?”

When the pandemic didn’t relent over the summer, they had to keep moving their projected opening date back beyond the holidays and into the new year. Still, that was OK, Sarah explained. 

“As horrible as the timing of it was, I feel like waiting and doing it the right way and taking our time to think through systems and processes to keep people safe” was important, she said. “It’s something we needed to think about anyway. It made us think through keeping things clean and doing it the right way.”

The current plan is to finally open the first week of March.  

When everything is in place, Cobblestone on Main will feature a large main dining room door, with booths along the wall, several high-top tables in the middle and a farm table in the front window. Towards the back of the building is a second, smaller dining room with more farm tables, and in the basement, two more dining rooms which can double as private party rooms. Come this spring, they hope to add a fenced-in patio for outside dining.

In a nod to the building’s early-19th century history, the Bresnahans tried to emulate as much of the original structure as they could, including leaving some exposed beams. The decor is rustic and weathered, or as Dan characterized it, “homey.”

“Rather than taking it and making it into an industrial-themed restaurant which I think a lot of people are going towards, it’s a cobblestone building that feels very homey,” he said. “So (we’re) bringing that to the inside and making you feel like you’re going home to have dinner rather than feel like you’re going out to a restaurant.”

The menu will feature American classics with locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. And even though there’s a bar, Dan said, the focus will always be on the food and the experience.

The Webster community is clearly looking forward to welcoming Cobblestone on Main to the village. That was especially illustrated during the holidays when they promoted gift certificates.

Dan remembered,

A week or so before Christmas we posted that we would have gift certificates available because we had a number of people inquire. We didn’t even have a jar of pickles in the place. I said to Sarah, I kind of feel guilty selling a gift card. But we put it on Facebook and the community support blew us away. It was a regular flow of people coming in, saying, “Hey we want to help.”

They ended up selling 115 gift cards in the week before Christmas.

“We love this community … and now we’re starting our first business here,” Dan said. “I didn’t want to do it anywhere else.” 

“We wanted to be part of the community and give back and participate in community events,” Lynne added. “The support has been wonderful and we appreciate everything. And we can’t wait to give back to them what we have to offer.” 

Read more about Cobblestone on Main on their Facebook page.

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Pandemic or not, the show must go on

28 Jan

When you’re in theater and a global pandemic keeps you from packing an auditorium with people who want to see your show, what’s a director to do? Create a show which people don’t actually have to be able to SEE.

That’s exactly what the students at Webster Thomas have done with their production of The Webster Thomas Radio Hour.

As the name implies, the show — which actually runs about two hours — is modeled after a 1940s-era radio show, complete with serials, commercials and a musical guest.

The main program is a collection five short plays, all written and performed by students. They begin with a crime drama (The Case of the Missing Mallets), followed by some science fiction (The Adventures of the Time-Traveling Athenians and The Return of Professor Z to the Planet of the Beyond), a murder mystery (Terror Train) and a ghost story (Francis Fisher — Ghost Hunter). Tucked in between the features are several very creative commercials and short subjects. And, in keeping with the old-time radio variety show format, all of the sound effects and musical cues are performed live.

Even though the the play couldn’t be presented in front of a packed auditorium, director Mark Stoetzel has tried to give his young actors as much of a normal school play experience as possible. It is being presented on the Thomas stage, for example. But all of the actors will wear masks and maintain social distancing as they act out their lines, something that isn’t possible with a traditional production.

Stoetzel wrote,

Our students, especially the seniors, really do miss the regular performances with all that entails (tech week, set building days on weekends, creative concession tables, cast parties, much longer rehearsals, etc.). These things were stressful, but in a good way. Naturally, we cannot do most of these things, but we can recreate some of the trappings.

We’ll put a display in the trophy case outside the auditorium like always, with cast head-shots and bios. We’ve put the show’s poster on the kids’ lockers (thanks to Denise Warren, Tanya Yost, and Brian Phares for that – everyone is pitching in!). And we’ve scheduled the recording sessions at night like a regular show, and have allowed each student to invite their immediate families (spread out throughout the whole auditorium). There won’t be a cast party, but they’ll still keep certain traditions alive, like paper-plate awards.

The ensemble held their final rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon. I was pleased to be invited, mostly because I was a little unsure about how this radio-play-on-a-stage would work.

Basically, the Thomas stage became the “recording studio.” Actors’ chairs, microphones and script stands were scattered around the stage, with a table in back filled with sound effects materials for two Foley artists. Signs announcing each feature were stacked in front of the stage for the benefit of the studio audience. And of course, one dedicated cue-card holder stood at the ready to let audience members know when to laugh, applaud, boo or gasp!

Jenna Dow and Brynn Smith perform as Alex Ramirez instructs the audience.

I enjoyed the production tremendously. Each of the features was very well written and very funny. The actors actually acted out their roles as they read their lines, and they were all quite good. There were some humorous references to Rochester and the commercials poked fun at several of the students’ beloved teachers. And the poor musical guest … well, you just have to see the show yourself to see what happens to her.

And you will be able to see the show. After presenting the play to very small, invitation-only audiences Thursday and Friday, it will be posted on YouTube and other media platforms. I’ll let you know the details as soon as I know them, but in the meantime, you can stay up to date by following the cast on Twitter at @wthsfallplay.

It’s a very family-friendly production, by the way, so everyone will enjoy it.

Director Mark Stoetzel, right, gives some final instructions to his cast before a performance.

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When life gives you lemons…

26 Jan

I really love the way our local small business owners are not only persevering through these difficult times, but are finding creative ways to do so.

The most recent example is our very own Village Quilt Shoppe at 21 E. Main Street. Even before the pandemic hit, disaster struck the brand new business just days before the village’s White Christmas celebration, when a water leak from the above apartment flooded the shop, ruining shelving, flooring and inventory.

But owners Vanetta Parshall and Monique Liberti made the best of it, laudering the wet fabric (which they call “flood fabric”) and selling it at a discount. Thanks to their loyal customers, they sold enough to cover the insurance deductible for repairs.

This weekend Vanetta and Monique will be looking back on those difficult days with a Flood Party, and will be displaying several of the projects which were made with the flood fabric. Thanks to Covid, the celebration won’t be very big, but they do promise a hot chocolate bar, cookies, and a demo held every half hour between 11 and 2.

So even if you’re not a quilter, if you’re in the village Saturday, stop on in, check out the shop and meet Monique and Vanetta, two of the nicest people in town.

The Village Quilt Shoppe is located at 21 E. Main St., at the corner of Lapham Park.

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Celebrating our 2021 senior class

25 Jan

You may recall that last year, after the pandemic shuttered the schools in March, our seniors lost out on a lot of the fanfare and celebration normally marking the end of high school. Even though things still aren’t back to normal, everyone is hoping the experience for this year’s seniors will be much more positive.

Our Webster Central PTSA has plans to make sure that’s the case.

Once a month through June, the PTSA will be surprising each senior with a fun gift or special event, planned for on or around the 21st of each month (in honor of 2021 of course). Every student at Webster Thomas and Schroeder high schools, whether remote, hybrid, GOAL or other, will be included.

According to Webster Central PTSA programming co-chair Stacie Peters, the effort is part of a movement happening all around the country, where PTSAs are celebrating the senior class of 2021. She first heard about it from Schroeder parent Amy Peterson. From there, Peters, Schroeder High School PTSA/WTA liaison Linda Law, Thomas PTSA/WTA liaison Denise Warren, and Thomas PTSA Chair Bridget Ziskind organized a team of parents to brainstorm ideas.

Each senior received a baggie like this one (S. Peters)

The PTSA got things rolling last Thursday and Friday, handing out small bags of Hershey’s Kisses, complete with inspirational messages, to almost 360 Schroeder seniors and 335 Thomas seniors. They included in-school and 100% remote students, EMCC students, early senior graduates, early-graduating juniors, and a dozen GOAL students.

The whole undertaking was “more complex than we thought,” Peters wrote.

“Since most every senior has to take a social studies and English class, we used those teachers to pass Kisses out,” she wrote. “We had them bagged up and dropped off to teachers with senior names on them. … The awesome secretaries in both buildings broke lists down for us” to help with the distribution.

“(Schroeder principal) Mr. Benz, (Thomas principal) Mr. Widor, and all the teachers in the buildings have been supportive in helping us with this effort,” Peters added.

The whole idea is to do something special for the class of 2021, and inject some excitement into their final year of schooling. Judging by the smiling eyes you see in these pictures, the effort so far has been a success. (Thank you to Jen Calus for the student photos.)

Stay tuned in the next several weeks to find out what the next senior surprise will be.

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Building snowmen, dropping eggs. Lots of library fun ahead

24 Jan

If you haven’t popped by the Webster Public Library’s Facebook page recently, you’re missing out on a lot of fun events. Here are just a few of the ones I found when I visited recently:

Snow Building Contest

We got measureable snow just in time for the library’s latest celebration of winter, a Snow Building Contest.

From now until the end of February, everyone is invited to get bundled up, get out in the snow and build something spectacular! It can be a person, an animal, a castle, a Baby Yoda, a Pikachu, whatever. When your masterpiece is finished, take a photo and email it to All of the creations will be posted on Facebook so people can vote on which is the best.

How to Recycle

If you’ve ever been even a little bit confused about what materials can be put in the recycle bin — like plastic mailing envelopes and packing materials, for example — this Zoom-based program is for you.

On January 26 the library will host Tina Stevens, Monroe County’s Waste Diversion and Education Coordinator, for an informative program via Zoom where you can learn the dos and don’ts of recycling and ask your questions.

Register here to be sure that you receive the Zoom invitation.

The Egg Drop Challenge

You’ve heard about these challenges before. Here’s your chance to try it out for yourself and impress everyone with your engineering skills.

The challenge is to build a structure to protect an egg as it’s dropped from a very great height and plummets to the ground. Each group will pick up their mystery supplies from the library and build their contraption using only those mystery supplies (plus tape).

Once your contraption is finished, return it to the library. They’re going to live-stream the challenge on Facebook, when everyone can see which groups built the best structures, and which ones failed miserably (or at least messily).

Adults and children are invited to participate. Click here to register. Only 10 spots are available. Groups can pick up their mystery supplies between Feb. 1 and 12, and return their finished structure to the library by Feb. 19. The climactic event will be live streamed on Feb. 20 at 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting).

Let’s Explore Webster

Finally, here’s a link to Doreen and Laureen’s most recent addition to their excellent Let’s Explore Webster video series. This month they return to the Webster Arboretum to highlight its extraordinary winter beauty.

There’s so much going on all the time at the Webster Public Library. You definitely want to make the time to stop by in person or online.

The Webster Public Library is located at 980 Ridge Rd.

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A wonderful sound is spreading through our schools

22 Jan
This Schlegel hallway was quiet before the school day began, but would soon be filled with the sounds of children in nearby classrooms.

It’s noise.

I’m not talking about construction noise or clanging HVAC equipment. I’m talking happy noises, like the sounds of children laughing, chatting, and learning.

Those are sounds I didn’t hear much back in September when we returned to school.

We entered the new school year with much trepidation. Everyone — students, teachers and staff — was delighted to be back after months of working remotely. But we encountered all sorts of new rules and precautions to keep everyone healthy. We tiptoed hesitantly through our days, carefully navigating new protocols and systems, afraid that any misstep would send us back to 100% remote learning.

And what that all sounded like was … silence.

But it struck me the other day as I was walking through the halls of Schlegel Elementary that the school was back to sounding like a school again. I think we’re all relieved and a little surprised that we made it this far without having to go fully remote again, and you can sense that feeling in how comfortable everyone has gotten with the new schedule, distancing and masking requirements.

You can see it especially in the students. They’re smiling (you can tell by their eyes), chatting animatedly with their friends, giggling at knock-knock jokes, and skipping through the halls, tossing a carefree “hello!” as they pass.

In short, kids are being kids again.

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Elusive finch draws bird lovers to Webster

21 Jan
Male Pine Grosbeak (S. Webster)

Local and regional birders are all atwitter about a rare sighting in our area which has drawn birdwatchers to Webster from far and wide.

The cause of the excitement is a large, plump, colorful finch called the Pine Grosbeak. Typically found in much colder climates like Canada and Alaska, a couple dozen of them have migrated much farther south this winter, and have been spotted at Webster Park and Mendon Ponds Park.

Greg Lawrence, a research scientist from SUNY Brockport and a board member of the Rochester Birding Association, explained that the migration event is unusual because the Pine Grosbeak is an “irruptive” species. Basically, that’s a species that usually only migrates short distances, but will occcasionally move far south in large numbers. He theorizes that’s the case this year because the food supply is poor up in their Canadian breeding grounds.

He added that it’s been eight years since the Pine Grosbeaks last migrated this far south.

Birders have identified two groups of about a dozen birds each, most of them females and juveniles. Apparently, sightings of male Pine Grosbeaks are even more rare, but one has been spotted in Webster Park, an event which Lawrence called “unique.” It’s so unusual that birders have traveled from all over the state and even Pennsylvania in hopes of catching a gimpse of the beautiful finches.

Female Pine Grosbeak (S. Webster)

The stunning images you see here are courtesy Suzie Webster, a local photographer and birder, who has especially enjoyed the hunt.

She wrote,

Some other photographers and I have had so much fun trying to track (the finches) down and get the timing right so they are in a place that they can be photographed to highlight their beauty. … They are a very challenging bird to photograph because they are frequently high up in tree tops and don’t always come down low enough to get a clear image.

Having the opportunity to photograph and view the rare and uncommon Pine Grosbeaks here in Webster and in Mendon has made winter nature photography much more exciting and colorful! Spring and summer were full of brilliantly colored birds to find and photograph such as the Warblers, but winter is a lot more challenging overall. I’m thankful that this year just happened to be an irruptive year for the Pine Grosbeaks and a few other winter species because it has made outings more exhilarating and fun!

According to Greg Lawrence, the Grosbeaks will probably hang around through March or April before heading back north, and perhaps even longer if they can find enough food. So there’s still plenty of time to get out on the trails and try to see one for yourself. A nice hike to appreciate these stunning Canadian visitors would be a welcome diversion from all the negative news which dominates our lives these days.

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What can be done with that ugly West Webster corner?

20 Jan

Every once in a while I remember to log onto the Town of Webster website and check in with Supervisor Flaherty’s weekly column. Usually I find something interesting and perhaps even learn something I didn’t know.

When I was doing that recently, I came across a column he wrote back in September which addressed a thorny issue I’ve thought about often: cleaning up the corner of Ridge Rd. and Gravel Rd. in West Webster.

You know the place: the Jade Palace Restaurant sits on the northeast corner and the old Webster Furniture Strippers on the northwest corner. The restaurant itself is pretty unslightly and overgrown, but the former Furniture Strippers shop is even worse. It’s downright decrepit, an embarrassment to the hamlet.

I had heard for years that the reason the Furniture Strippers shop has not yet been razed was due to environmental concerns regarding the chemicals they used, which seeped into the ground. Basically, the property is a toxic waste site, and no one wants to take responsibility for it.

Supervisor Flaherty goes into a lot of political background in his column about how the owners have defaulted on their taxes, meaning the county can take possession of the property. But because of the environmental issues, the county wants nothing to do with it. You can read all of that background here if you’d like. But I was interested in the bottom line: when will someone bulldoze that building?

Here’s what he had to say about that:

The first part of the plan is to get the DEC reports on the building in the last 30 years and if they show that the environmental issues at the site are “minimal or non-existent,” the County may take title to the property and market it for sale. At that point, a developer most likely would want to buy it if they saw the cost to take down the building was NOT going to have hundreds of thousands of dollars of environmental remediation. If the DEC reports are not definitive enough to have Monroe County take title, we will move on to plan B which most likely entails a phase 1 or 2 environmental study of the property to determine the true environmental risk and what needs remediation.

All of which means this issue is STILL not going away anytime soon. But Supervisor Flaherty does assure us that he’s still working on it, writing,

I am not comfortable just throwing my hands up and saying “oh well… nothing we can do. It’s Monroe County’s decision.” Fact is, the property is IN Webster. It is an eyesore at best, and a safety risk at worst. It also is impeding the development of that corner and all neighborhoods that spawn off of it.

Let’s hope his commitment stays strong. West Webster deserves better.

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Journalist collaboration means more news and insights for Webster residents

18 Jan

I’m very excited to announce today a new collaboration which will go a long way to keep Webster residents entertained and informed.

Beginning later today and every Monday, you’ll find a link to one of my blog posts on the (relatively) new website,

Webster Online was established early last year by Anna Hubbel, whom you might know as the editor of the weekly Village of Webster newspaper, the Webster Herald. Designed as a totally independent enterprise from the Herald, the site’s original purpose was to keep the Webster community informed during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More recently, Anna has been trying to broaden the site’s horizons, offering more community-oriented content including opinion pieces and features about cooking and books. And now, my Webster on the Web community blog.

While Anna will continue to focus on keeping her website updated with local news and information, my weekly “column” will provide a more personal look at the people and events here in our town and village. You won’t find links to ALL of my blogs there (I don’t want to lose you as a reader completely!) but once a week we’ll choose one blog to cross-post to the website. Today, for example, you’ll find a link on Webster Online to my recent blog about Dan Johannson, a 2013 Webster Thomas grad who’s making news in North Dakota.

I’m look forward to working with Anna on this new partnership, and offering the Webster community easy community access to a pair of accurate, informative and positive places to find news and features.

So log onto Webster Online and check it out for yourself. You’ll also find a link to the website on the right side of this page.

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Webster community mailbag

16 Jan

Here’s a great socially-distanced, outdoor activity that everyone in the family will love.

It’s a Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Webster Recreation Center on Saturday Jan. 23. Children and their adults are invited to participate in a fun morning of searching, exploring and discovering one of our local parks.

The event, held at the Rec Center at 1350 Chiyoda Dr., is designed for children of all ages, with three different levels of scavenger hunts (under 5 yrs old, 5-8 yr olds, and 8-12 yr olds). You can sign in anytime between 9 and 11 a.m., work together to find the clues around the park, and record your answers in the special scavenger hunt answer key. When you’re all done, return your answers to earn a fun prize.

Cost is $5 per child or $20 per family. Pre-registration is requested (register the children only), but payment will be taken at the event. To register, visit the Webster Parks and Recreation website and search for program #101205-A. All proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Webster Trails for maintenance and improvements of trails in Webster.

So bundle up and have some fun!

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The Webster Public Library will host a Webster Area Preschools “Open House” from January 25 to 29.

During that entire week, during their regular hours, the library will have a special display set up in front of the community room with information about Webster area preschools, including brochures, registration information, and virtual events. If you have any questions, contact Jason at (585) 872-7075 x6119 or

The library is also offering several adult programs via Zoom this month. Still coming up are Meditation and Self Love on Jan. 20 and Recycling 101 on Jan 26. Registration is required. For class descriptions and registration links, visit the library’s website, choose Events and Classes and find the class you’re interested in on the calendar.

February will also be a busy month at the library. Here’s a visual gallery of some the programs that are coming down the pike:

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Finally, here’s an opportunity to show off your inner photographer.

The Webster Museum is putting together a gallery of “favorite spots in Webster.” This is a follow-up to the museum’s popular holiday photo gallery last month.

This time, they’d like you to take a photo of your favorite Webster spot, then email it to to be included in the gallery.

Check back at the website often, because they’ll be updating the gallery as submissions come in.

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