As the co-authors of children’s books, Kim and Rob Rayevsky create enchanting worlds, designed so young ones can momentarily escape into its pages from the cares of the day. As the co-owners and managers of Sullivan County’s Rolling River Café Gallery & Inn in Parksville, this inventive couple has also created a similar paradise getaway for adults.
Rolling River, which celebrates its first anniversary this August, is a testament to the Rayevskys’ numerous skills: creativity, hospitality and a seemingly boundless energy. As the name suggests, the popular complex offers food, rest, music and art which nourish the body, mind and spirit all at once.
“I’ve always wanted to have a little place where people could stop,” said Rolling River co-owner, co-manager and chef, Rob Rayevsky, 53, in a luxurious Russian accent. “I like people. I am very sociable.”
Rob considers Rolling River Mission another “artistic project”.
The pair, who has been married since 1994, wanted to create a place where their shared passions of cooking, art and music could thrive, Rob said. Thus, Rolling River was conceived. “Everything we liked we now have in one place.”
Selecting Sullivan County as home for the multi-purpose enterprise was not a haphazard choice. Rob (who immigrated here from Russia in 1979) used to spend summers in the area about two decades ago with his first wife and children. He’d also been a busboy at the popular and chaotic Concord Hotel.
“I always liked the climate and scenery and the beauty of it,” he said. When he and his new bride Kim, also 53, were ready to move from Northampton, Massachusetts, four years ago, Rob remembered the halcyon summers of Sullivan County.
“We were looking for something very private,” Rob said. “A few acres in the woods, near water – no neighbors around.” While the area had been built up somewhat in the intervening years, the couple (and their two daughters from Rob’s first marriage, Miriam and Claire, and Rafael, Kim’s adopted son from Bogotá, Columbia) headed to the area near Route 17 to find their dream home.
What they found, instead, was the Parksville property, which was in great need of tender loving care. “It was not at all what we were looking for,” Rob said, “but we fell in love with it.” Their first idea was that the carriage house on the property could serve as a studio for Rob’s illustration work, as well as a place to display and sell etchings.
But the multiple structures on the property inspired the Rayveskys to widen their plans. A 200-year-old structure, once the residence of the first mayor of Parksville, seemed the ideal place for an inn. “It was not in too bad shape, Rob said, “just cosmetic.”
There was also a snug smaller building that seemed the ideal place for a café – or, in Rob’s words, “a neighborhood joint.” But unlike the inn, the building slated for the café “was a nightmare,” Rob said, “totally ruined.”
Happily, Rob’s talents extend beyond sketching; he repaired most of the problems himself, while also installing new electricity and plumbing.” Now that the building’s structural integrity was restored, Rob and Kim could discuss the items for their menu.
Jay Blotcher, an Ulster County-based writer, is completing the libretto of a new musical about 1960s Harlem, titled “Holding On.”