THE PASSION FOR PIZZA
While Benji was working on a degree in sustainable agriculture and green building in Vermont, his brother Jacob was learning to bake bread in Jackson, Wyoming. Benji wanted to return to the family roots in Bethel, New York so Jacob joined him. Together the brothers had the vision of combining their skills to create something that would be unique and sustainable in a small town. While Jacob was living in the Pizza-deprived Tetons he began to develop what would someday become the famous Benji & Jakes Pizza for his friends. It reminded him of the comforts of home back in the Catskills (New York being arguably the Pizza Capital of the World).
With the brothers back together again, they decided to build what may be the world’s first wood-fired oven on an old jet ski trailer. Jacob created the whole wheat dough and it was well-received at farmers markets and private events. The tiny oven quickly became too small for the demand, so the brothers created and built a much bigger oven to accommodate the hungry crowds at the Bethel Woods Harvest Festivals held at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival. At every event people asked, “Where is your restaurant?” “You’re in it!”
It was inevitable. A Benji & Jakes restaurant was the next step. With two decks overlooking beautiful Kauneonga Lake, diners can enjoy a view of the sunset, a multitude of delicious unique pizzas, and a variety of other fresh, natural foods featuring local farmers’ products. The restaurant also features live music, craft beers, wines and specialty cocktails.
Now, 12 years later, Benji & Jacob continue to explore and create new culinary delights as they attract both locals and visitors to the region they call home.