The choice this week was between a candy bar and a granola bar, with either a soda or bottled water to wash it down.
But if Chris and John Verni have their way, Mamaroneck commuters could be choosing between steak and fish by the start of next year.
After celebrating the groundbreaking on their restoration project on the historic Mamaroneck Train Station late last month, the dust from the demolition is already flying. Soon, construction will begin on the new station, and Chris Verni said the next major decision is which restaurant to put in the space. While Verni declined to name names, he said there are a number of interested parties.
"It’s an enormous space and a unique spot, so we want to do something really special there," he said. "We think it’s going to be a great destination restaurant, one of the best in Westchester."
The Verni brothers, partners in Verco Properties LLC, purchased the historic building from the MTA in 2008. Now that the plans are finalized with Mamaroneck Village and the MTA, the Vernis hope the station will be operational in the next six to nine months. But first, decisions have to be made on who will occupy the space.
"Ask 100 people and you get 100 different ideas," Chris Verni said. "It’s been great to hear all the enthusiasm."
The lunchtime commuters on Thursday contributed some of their own.
Ramon Ibarra, a 49-year-old from New Rochelle who takes the train twice a day, thinks a diner that offers a wide variety of food would be a good choice.
Diane Kort, a senior at Rye Neck High School who was taking the train to the Yankees game with a group of her friends, had an even cooler idea.
"There should be a frozen yogurt place," she said. "I would go there a lot."
Sylvie Fremont, a 52-year-old Mamaroneck resident who takes the train about twice a week, likes the idea of any sort of new restaurant in the area and thinks the train station would be a good spot for it.
"It’s completely dead right now, so I think it’s a good thing," she said. "We need a good restaurant in Mamaroneck."
Chris Verni said some other ideas in play are a flower shop and a dry-cleaning store. He and his brother also plans to move Verco Properties LLC — a third generation real estate investment, redevelopment & management company currently based in New York City — to the second floor of the building.
Verco Properties has hired Stephen Tilly Architects, a Dobbs Ferry-based architectural firm that specializes in historic preservation, to design the improvements to the building, which was originally constructed in 1888 and moved in 1927 when the tracks were elevated. Suburban Construction Inc., based in Valhalla, has been hired as construction manager for the project.
Chris Verni said the hope is that some of the original features of the building, such as the fireplace and the ticket booth room, can be incorporated into the design of the new restaurant. In addition, Verni said they have an agreement with the MTA to use the parking lot on weekends and evenings. They also have the option to lease an additional 11 parking spots right in front of the building, he said.
Chris Verni, 43, is a Larchmont resident, a member of the Larchmont Planning Board, and a former Village of Larchmont Trustee. John Verni, 48, lives in New Rochelle and is also a practicing attorney at a White Plains firm. With their close ties to the community, the project is more than just an investment opportunity for the brothers.
"We saw it as a really wonderful opportunity and just a cool thing to do," Chris Verni said. "It’s great. It’s been a long process, but you want to do it and you want to do it right."