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Photo courtesy Stagecoach

Delicious Dinners in COVID-safe Conditions at Stagecoach Tavern


A few years back, I was the hostess at the Stagecoach Tavern on Undermountain Road/Route 41 in Sheffield, Mass., one of the truly most fun jobs I’ve ever had (and they give you dinner!). One of the signature delights of the Stagecoach was and continues to be owner David Rothstein, who has as many tales to tell as the days are long.

Some of those tales relate to the history of the old tavern; David would dine at the bar most weekend evenings and if a tavern guest asked me for the history of the building, the basics of the story would remain the same but the details would sometimes shift, not in a mendacious way but in the way a good comedian or storyteller adapts the tale to suit the audience. I heard the history dozens of times and never got bored with it.

David himself is a story, with chapters that involve his years working as architect Louis Kahn’s model maker, his years as a teacher of architecture at Columbia University in NYC, and his years as a jazz and rock and folk music impresario at the helm of the famous Music Inn, across the road from Tanglewood.

David is a creator and a visionary — and he actually gets quite a few things done. But they shift over time, depending on what’s caught his attention.

Enter David’s son, Casey Meade Rothstein-Fitzpatrick, whose multilayered name gives you a sense of the many loving people who contributed to the upbringing of this spiritual, lovely, excellent new general manager of the Rothstein family’s two enterprises: The Racebrook Lodge and the Stagecoach Tavern.

The Stagecoach has always been fun and historic and picturesque and often delicious. There has been music, there have been wild parties, there have been quiet, romantic, cozy evenings near the fireplace at the bar.

But under Casey’s management, there has also been greater consistency in addition to that wonderful Rothstein family creativity. For a while there, it felt like the restaurant’s culinary direction would change each time a new chef started (and chefs, as we know, can be transient).

With Casey at the bat, the menu is consistently a mix of farm-to-table sophisticated country cooking that nods to the tavern’s history as an English-style pub. The new chef, as of December, is Jesse Holmes.

Casey has also been reconfiguring space in the multi-room eatery, and has found a way to turn the rambling building into the perfect place to dine out safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stagecoach is made up of cozy nooks. Pre-COVID, Casey had created little private dining rooms. During the pandemic, he has tested out different dining protocols that have included small tables perched along the shores of the Race Brook, out back.

His latest innovation has been to use fabric to separate the dining areas into airy little havens that are reminiscent of childhood tent forts.

The service is friendly, the food is delicious, there’s always a good bartender mixing up fun cocktails. In winter, a fire burns steadily in the fireplace at the center of the room. And if you want to hear that night’s history of the tavern, you can often find David dining at the bar at around 7 p.m. (no promises).

For information and reservations, go to https://rblodge.com/ or call 413-229-2916. Dinner service is Thursday through Sunday.

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