Wednesday, August 12, 2020

One of Hudson's Great Characters

Gossips learned recently of the death of Imre Vilaghy. Imre died in June, in Carthage, Tennessee. His obituary was published in Columbia Paper, but if you missed it there, Gossips shares it again here. It's been almost a decade since Imre sold Wunderbar, the restaurant he created in the space that had been Kappy's and before that Lawrence Tavern, and moved on. Many of us who knew him during his Hudson years knew nothing of his life before he arrived here or after he left. His obituary recounts the entire adventure.

Photo: Dan Region
Imre Vilaghy (1947-2020)
Imre Vilaghy died June 19, 9:28 a.m. at a friend's home as his son Christoph prepared to take him outside for his first smoke of the day, five months after he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
He was born March 25, 1947, in Baden Bei Wien, Austria, the son of Andreas Vilaghy and Ruth (Hein) Vilaghy. He grew up in Austria but as an adult discovered he enjoyed working with handicapped children. He spent seven years living and working in Camphill Schools for the mentally handicapped in Northern Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and England, and then immigrated to the United States with his wife, the former Joanne Bleezarde from Ravena, and their sons, Erik Andreas and Christoph Joseph.
He soon became a citizen and was delighted by how easy it was to start a business in the U.S. He was a car mechanic, a chimney sweep, and then a farmer. He started Our Daily Bread, sold baked goods in the Greenmarkets in New York City, and opened a coffee shop and internet cafe on Warren Street, The Oasis. When the former Lawrence's Tavern came on the market he bought the restaurant and the building it was in and The Wunderbar and Bistro was born.
After eight years operating The Wunderbar, he sold it and bought a boat. He lived on the boat for three years, sailing it up the Hudson, through the Great Lakes and back on the Erie Canal. Eventually he tired of the sea and traded the boat for an RV, realizing the dream of traveling around the country. He spent several winters in Texas and Florida, returning to New York for the summers, until he happened upon an RV park for sale in Granville, Tennessee, an hour east of Nashville.
He bought the Made in the Shade RV Park in 2016, managed it and lived in it until the last two months of his life when he moved into the home of a friend who lived nearby.
He declined treatment and spent no time in hospitals except for testing. He died on his own terms, in little pain and with his head screwed on tight. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered in several places meaningful to him.
He leaves behind his sons, Erik Andreas of Schenectady and Christoph Joseph of Athens; his former wife, Joanne Vilaghy of Philmont; his aunt, Edith Rudolf, and her daughters, Eva and Alexandra; his stepmother, Sylvia Vilaghy Briebauer, and his half brother, Andreas Vilaghy, who all live in Austria; and his little dog, Jasmine.
Dan Region interviewed Imre for his series From the Road not long after Wunderbar opened. That piece can be read here.


  1. Our first dinner as freshly-minted Hudsonians was take-away from Wunderbar. I sat at the bar and ordered the food and a beer while I waited. An older gentleman struck up a conversation and then invited me to the back room for a smoke while I waited. We had a nice conversation, drank and smoked. After that first night, Emre always let my wife and I know we were welcome in his "clubhouse" whenever we wanted to smoke while at Wunderbar. He was a class act and a very nice guy. Of course missing from his bio was his penchant for cross-dressing. He was a nice guy. But a not-too-attractive woman. He's been missed -- and now he'll continue to be missed. RIP Emre.

  2. RIP Imre, you are indeed one of Hudson's most interesting characters. I'll never forget doing the 4th-Down Glad Rag Fashion show with you, or buying bread from you in Philmont when I first lived in Ghent, or your happening to teach me how to send an e-mail at the Oasis Internet cafe! Long history.

  3. Imre was one of a kind. I loved all his kooky plans. He listened to people, too, a true gent even when he wasn't (heh), and now a colorful chapter in Hudson's ever-vanishing history.


  4. Pam Kungle shared this memory:

    Imre at one time acquired the building at 222 Warren Street to open a pizza place that has since become West Indies Food. He thought lower Warren needed a place to get a slice. He was right.

  5. When Imre was cross-dressed his personality changed into a cheerful happy smile.

    Unforgettable man.

  6. I played poker a few times with Imre, and had a wonderful dinner on his boat when it was docked in Athens. His cross-dressing persona was 'Harmony.'

  7. Imre was a nice guy and colorful character. The Wunderbar was always a fun and affordable place to eat or hangout. His tradition is continuing there still. Poker games in the back were always a good time especially at the beginning when we just played for fun and camaraderie. And the first time Harmony showed up at the Hudson River Theater was a total surprise and showed another side of his personality. He was a great addition to the earlier Hudson renaissance. RIP