WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) -- After being in business for 4-years, 'Graft Wine + Cider Bar' is shutting down.

The North Franklin Street business made the announcement on Facebook on Monday. According to the post, the decision to close was made because the co-owners are "changing gears" after working in the wine industry for more than 20-years, and the chef is also relocating with her family.

The last day of business for 'Graft Wine + Cider Bar' will be July 27th.


Dear friends,

When the idea of Graft became reality four years ago, we didn't know if our concept of a bar and kitchen with an all New York drink list and a daily changing menu that emphasized sharing would work. We trusted Watkins Glen was the place for us to share our passion for local food and drink, not only in location as a central hub of the Finger Lakes but also for the bustling opportunities in this growing village.

In our wildest thoughts, we could not have anticipated the joy and connection we've created with Graft. Our concept not only worked, but has been embraced by our locals as well as a welcoming place for travelers to experience the abundant bounty of our region.

Our success makes this letter especially bittersweet to write.

Our last day of service will be Saturday, July 27.

The reason is two-fold: Partner and Chef Christina Mckeough is relocating with her family to Philadelphia and co-owners Katie Marks and Ted Marks are changing gears after being in the wine business for 20 years with Atwater Winery.

We cannot truly express in words what these past four years have been for us in our happy little building on Franklin Street. It has been a pleasure serving you honest, straightforward food and local drink in Watkins Glen.

Thank you to all of the local farmers who work so hard to provide us with beautiful produce and sustainable meats which inspired Christina's nightly menus. Thank you to the vineyardists, the vineyard workers, the orchardists. We truly respect what you do for the land and the humans.

Thank you to the winemakers, cidermakers, brewers and creative people behind all the outstanding libations of the region. Your dedication to your craft makes it it easy to sell and celebrate local in it's best light.

Thank you to the artists, craftspeople, designers and creators who contributed to our beautiful space. Your art is appreciated daily.

Thank you to the Village of Watkins Glen, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, local B+B's, hotels, inns and all community folk who've referred and supported us over the years.

Thank you to our restaurant and bar peers, who work their asses off to serve others, creating spaces for people to gather and relish the good life in the FLX. Keep raising the bar. We'll be sitting at yours soon.

Thank you to our loyal and lovely regulars, guests, families and friends. Seeing your smiling faces over the years has been more heart-warming than we could have imagined. Thank you for 'getting us', understanding and liking what we do enough to return again and again. Thank you for laughing with us and yes, being sad with us, because we are sad this is happening. Thank you. We love you.

Finally, a giant thank you to our staff who have carried us daily and shaped the community of who we are. Noting a special shout-out to Antoinette Di Ciaccio: Without your guidance, Graft wouldn't have opened on time.
And to Jacob, Ellen, Ava and Lexi: You have become family. We thank you for your dedication, your hard work, patience and kindness to all who've come through our doors. Those in this business know the strength, sharpness, stamina and creativity needed to do what you do. Thank you. We look forward to your what's next.

So what's next for this space?

As of now, the business and building is for sale. Watkins Glen has proved that this type of business is needed and wanted. Even the name GRAFT alludes to what we would love to see happen for the space: to evolve into a new off-shoot, a new creation using the rootstock of what we've created. Corny, yes, but we believe that the constant revitalization of Watkins Glen could support another business similar to what we do here. If you are interested or happen to have a cousin from Wisconsin that has been looking for an opportunity to relocate to have a bar and kitchen in wine country, please get in touch with Ted or Katie.

We will approach these final two months as we always do, with seasonal menus alongside really good wine, beer and cider while continuing to create a space where all are welcomed. Creating GRAFT was a great testament to our abilities and has taught us all so much. We will miss it, but are excited for our next chapter. We hope to see you all one last time before we close on July 27.

With gratitude,

Christina, Katie and Ted