kim’s kitchen

Make this Pelkey’s Tavern Detroit-style pizza cake

Posted 12/27/23

“Hey! Would you consider doing a Sip and Paint class over at Pelkey’s Tavern?” 

The question came from Shannon, a friend of mine who regularly attends my Sip and Paint …

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kim’s kitchen

Make this Pelkey’s Tavern Detroit-style pizza cake


“Hey! Would you consider doing a Sip and Paint class over at Pelkey’s Tavern?” 

The question came from Shannon, a friend of mine who regularly attends my Sip and Paint classes. 

The truth is, I love teaching people how to paint. Sip and Paint classes are ideal for doing that. Folks attend with friends. Sipping helps most people to relax. And, as my husband Fleck says, everyone leaves with something to be proud of. 

Plus, I teach these classes differently. In general, Sip and Paint classes consist of an artist sitting in front of an easel, and saying to a group of painters, “OK—now we’ll paint this line here.” Everyone follows directions, and everybody paints the same thing. 

I don’t do that. 

Prior to my classes, I create a variety of choices of subjects to paint. These are often tied to a theme that I select in conjunction with the venue. Participants choose their painting in advance, and I set up their canvas for them ahead of time. (If they desire a special painting—say, a portrait of their pet—I can set that up for them as well, as long as I have enough lead time.) 

On paint night, everyone works on their unique canvases. I circulate among them and provide instruction. My husband says he does the important stuff—handing out paper towels and alerting me when someone needs help or has a question to be answered. 

This formula has worked effectively at local establishments like Hector’s (Bethel, NY), The White Sulphur Springs Inn (White Sulphur Springs, NY), The Callicoon Brewing Company (Callicoon, NY), and Kenoza Hall (Kenoza Lake, NY), among many others. 

So, when I was asked about Pelkey’s Tavern, I said, “Sure! Where is it?” 

Well, it turns out that it’s at 553 County Rd. 94 in Hankins, NY, about 10 minutes from Callicoon. 

It was a dark, fall night when Fleck and I drove out to Pelkey’s for my first-ever Sip and Paint class there. Truthfully, we didn’t know what to expect. 

But we were very happy with what we saw. 

Formerly the site of McGurrin’s Pub, Pelkey’s Tavern has a vintage but neat-and-clean look outside. Plus, there’s patio seating with a stage for performances in the back for when the weather is warmer. 

Inside, the newly painted barroom features an L-shaped bar capable of seating 15, plus two spacious booths. And the dining room in the back can seat up to 25 patrons. We hosted our class in there. 

Everyone concerned—staff and patrons alike—was very friendly. And everybody enjoyed the food, the drinks and the service. 

We also had a chance to get to know William Pelkey, who—of course—owns the place. 

Growing up in New Jersey, William worked a number of jobs. At one point, he was a mechanic. His love of photography ended up landing him employment in the publishing industry. Along the way, he worked for Consumer Reports, Prevention, Esquire, Details and G.Q. Much of the time, he worked in production design. 

But when he wanted a break from the hectic publishing pace, he’d come up here to the mountains. 

“The off-duty me was the real me,” William explains. “Hiking, fly-fishing, building motorcycles and hot rods, firing up the grill and smoker, and mixing drinks for friends and family.” 

After 25 years in the publishing biz, William notes that “the industry shifted hard. Digital took over the print industry.” 

William realized that he needed to shift, too. And he loves these mountains… 

He bought the former McGurrin’s Pub in 2020, and immediately began renovations. 

“I’m so smart, I bought it in the middle of COVID,” he laughs with a self-spoofing eye roll. “But I saw potential, and I saw a need. I wanted to create a tavern that feels like home to the old place’s long-time fans while welcoming new ones. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to share my passion for great food, cocktails and beers with great people.” 

The renovations were extensive and tell a story of commitment. New floors. Windows where there were never windows before. An extended bar. Lots of fresh paint. And state-of-the-art beer drafts, including the only dedicated nitro-line Guinness in the area. 

“I tried to keep the local tavern feel while upgrading the look,” William explains. “Everything you see here is an accumulation of everything I love about restaurants and bars. It’s from the heart. As the owner operator, I love everything here, and I love to share it.” 

He also had a unique experience involving his last name. 

“All the time I was in Jersey and New York City, I never met anyone who wasn’t related to me with my last name,” he says. “Since I moved here, I’ve met two!” 

Pelkey’s Tavern opened in 2021, after most of the COVID restrictions were lifted. William quickly found that his Detroit-style pizza—with crispy edges, and “a little bit thicker than a focaccia”—was very popular. So much so, that Pelkey’s designates Thursdays as Pizza Night. (When I saw one of those pizzas, I just knew I had to turn it into a Kim’s Kitchen project.) 

Other best-selling menu stars include The Diablo Signature Chicken Sandwich and Famous Chef Eddie’s Pickles. 

“The Diablo comes from when we were renovating the bar,” William says. “We had ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ on in the background, and the guy I was working with said, ‘You gotta do a Diablo!’ I added a Dr. Pepper shot—light beer, and a shot of amaretto, made like a boilermaker. Just drop the glass in the beer.” 

And as for the pickles? 

“I had a chef named Eddie Sykes,” William explains. “If you’re in the kitchen, you have to care. And Eddie cared. Eddie wanted to do something with fried pickles. Well, we’re very hands-on here, and do a lot with homemade items. Eddie came up with a unique and delicious recipe that I don’t want to give away. You get two chefs in a kitchen who like each other, a lot of cool stuff can happen.”

These days, Pelkey’s Tavern is open on Mondays, Thursdays (Pizza Night), Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to Sip and Paints, William is thinking about doing a craft fair. Check out his website at

“I live here now,” William says. “I’m a die-hard local supporter. Everything I buy is local. My money goes back into this community. That’s why I poured my heart and soul into renovating and opening this tavern, and why I’m proud to put my name on it. I want this to be a place where tales of craftsmanship and community spirit are told.” 

And that’s why I wanted to do a Pelkey’s Tavern Detroit-Style Pizza Cake for this month’s project. One of the most popular food shows airing right now is “Is It Cake?” And I can tell you from personal experience that folks get real joy out of cutting into something that they have no idea is cake—until they do. 

Or you can save yourself the work and just grab an actual pizza from Pelkey’s Tavern come Thursday night. 

Kim M. Simons is an award-winning artist, cake artist, and food artist. She and her team—The Bah Hum Bakers—were the champions of Food Network’s “Holiday Wars” in 2019. She is also available to teach classes. Visit Kim at

cake, kims kitchen, pizza, chicago, style


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