The Bernacchia Family, HRM Gala Honoree
On Friday, June 17, the Hudson River Museum will host Expanding the View: A Gala to Benefit the Hudson River Museum. This is our most important fundraiser of the year, providing essential resources to the HRM and our community, and celebrating three outstanding honorees who have strengthened the community and the HRM through their vision, innovation, and creativity: Yonkers IDA, the Bernacchia family and Liberty Lines, and artist Jamel Robinson.
We will be spotlighting each honoree over the next few weeks. Today, we shine a light on the Bernacchia family and Liberty Lines. The Bernacchia family has been living in and serving the Westchester community for generations, as the owners and founders of Liberty Lines bus company and the upscale, garden-to-table Italian restaurants Harvest on Hudson and Half Moon in Westchester and Harvest on Fort Pond in Montauk. The family, and Liberty Lines, have been longtime supporters of the HRM; Bruce Bernacchia has served on the HRM’s Board of Trustees since 2011.
The modern saga of the family began with Arthur Bernacchia (1928–2017). Arthur attended Yonkers schools and graduated from Gorton High School, and attended Colgate University, graduating with honors in 1950. Arthur served two years in the Army, he returned to Yonkers in 1953, and met the love of his life, June Breimann. The two married in 1955 and were together for almost 62 years. Together, they had five children and nine grandchildren: Bruce Bernacchia and his wife Carol, of Dobbs Ferry; Janet Wilkins and her husband Robert, of Somers; Brian Bernacchia and his wife Maureen, of Yonkers; Jeanmarie Kuck and her husband Brad, of Mahopac; and David Bernacchia and his wife Lisa, of Pound Ridge.
Arthur and his brother George Bernacchia, along with their partner Ray Murphy, developed their family business and built a nationally recognized transit system that flourishes to this day. Today, Liberty Lines Transit covers 60 separate routes and serves 27 million passengers a year. The business is still in the family, with Bruce Bernacchia at the helm as Managing Director of the Liberty Lines Board of Directors.
In addition, for more than 25 years, the Bernacchia family has contributed to Westchester’s dynamic dining scene with their series of upscale and garden-to-table Italian restaurants in Westchester and Montauk. In 1994, Bruce, along with Angelo Liberatore, opened their first restaurant together, Harvest on Fort Pond in Montauk. In 1998, what began as an abandoned piece of property developed into Harvest on Hudson, a forward-thinking riverfront restaurant in Hastings-on-Hudson that has since been named among the “10 Best Waterfront Restaurants in Westchester” by Huffington Post. Sustainable gardening practices have been a hallmark from the beginning, featuring herbs and vegetables all started from seed and hand planted in the garden’s nutritious soil. The Half Moon restaurant was opened in 2008 on the Hudson in Dobbs Ferry.
A favorite memory of the Bernacchia family involves the Hudson River Museum. In 1969, Bruce and his cousin Gerard were encouraged by Bruce’s mother, June, to head down to the Museum to see what was new. Their timing was impeccable—it turned out to be opening day of the HRM’s brand new Planetarium and the boys were the very first visitors to test out the state-of-the-art astronomy equipment! They have been looking upwards ever since.
Left image: Joe Bernacchia (front left) and George Bernacchia (right) in approximately 1935 at the Yonkers Train Station with city aldermen and officials. Right image: Liberty Lines Executives and Partners in 2020, with a 1958 GM “Tank” and new Hybrid Articulated Bus.