Monday, May 22, 2017

New alcohol study: Other studies full of flaws

From the New York Daily News
There’s no shortage of studies claiming that moderate wine drinkers have healthier hearts. Same goes for light consumption of other sorts of alcohol. But a new deep research dive into the topic basically says to put a cork in it. Investigators found little evidence to support the earlier booze-is-good-for-you findings.

That’s the takeaway of a new study in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers sifted through 45 previous studies and found flaws in the methodology.
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Chain Links

Your connections to the latest news items affecting chains operating in the Greater Capital Region or reported to be looking into the area:

Burger King may begin  serving alcohol at NYC restaurant

Challenging New York City's restaurant salt warning rule

IHOP waitress arrested for threatening family with steak knife

Arby’s Foundation raises $2.5M to end childhood hunger 

Cheesecake Factory named 'Casual Dining Brand of the Year'

Buffalo Wild Wings: We Do Not Want To Be the Next Applebee's

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Award-winning Nicole's chef/owner J.P. Gavin dies

J.P. Gavin
James “J.P.” Gavin, co-owner and chef of the Albany restaurant Nicole’s, has died.

Gavin died on  Saturday after a 14-month battle with brain cancer, according to his wife, Margaret Carciobolo. The couple owned and operated the Delaware Avenue restaurant and catering service for more than three decades.

She said in a Facebook posting announcing his death, "He was brave, strong and fought hard. I know it is a shock to many people that did not know what we were facing. I am sorry to let people know this way, but it was much too difficult to talk about."

Gavin, who was raised in Guilderland, studied culinary arts at Schenectady County Community College, and worked and traveled widely throughout the U.S. and abroad before settling into the local restaurant scene.

He received the “Spirit of the Industry” Award at the Wine & Dine for the Arts Festival in Albany in January. Funeral arrangements and other details have  not yet been announced.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.



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Newburgh Brewing's taproom gets No.1 nod in NY online poll

The Newburgh Brewing Company taproom (photo provided)
Rankings are, as one might put it somewhat less crudely than usual, like rectal orifices. Everyone has one. The latest in New York State's beer world is a list of "best" taprooms by the influential website RateBeer.com.

Christopher Basso
The Newburgh Brewing Company was voted the "top tap room" in New York State in an online poll. As we all know by now, while online polls are popular, they are fraught with statistical inaccuracies. Nevertheless, they do offer some measure of popularity.

The brewery has been around only since 2012. Its top-selling product is a cream ale, one of its four original beers. It is made by brewmaster Christopher Basso, a graduate of both Boston University and the French Culinary Institute who began his brewing career at the Brooklyn Brewery.

Basso, a founding partner/owner of the company, since 2012 has brewed or overseen the brewing of more than 50 different styles of beer, many of which have won awards in major craft brewing competitions.

The taproom is located in the brewery facility at 85 Colden Street in Newburgh, a block west of  the Hudson River. Hours: Wednesday, 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight. Saturday, noon to midnight. Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. (kitchen closes at 4 p.m.)

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Report: NYC restaurants are cleaning up their act

NYC Health Department grades
• From amNewYork.com
New York City restaurants are making the grade when it comes to cleanliness and safety and experts say patrons are responsible for getting eateries on the right track.

About 93% of the 24,000 city restaurants earned an "A" rating in the Department of Health’s report card in the latest data from 2017, compared with 83% of restaurants that got the mark in 2011, a year after the report card system launched.

Various health violations have seen concurrent sharp declines, including roaches, mice and salmonella cases, the latter of which have dropped 32% overall since 2010, according to the Health Department.

The city credited the grading system with pushing restaurant owners to keep closer tabs on the conditions of their kitchens, while experts say the initiative has spurred an increased level of awareness among customers, who demand the best health standards.
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Lee's Main Street steadily gaining international flavor

Chef Express (photo provided)
From the Berkshire Eagle
LEE, MA -- It seems Sandeep Verma was destined to have his own restaurant. He liked to prepare dishes from his native India for local friends and relatives. They enjoyed them so much they kept encouraging him to cook for a living. Verma finally took their advice. He and his wife, Sadvi, recently opened Chef Express on Main Street. It's located in the storefront that used to house Knead a Bagel, which closed earlier this year. ...

Chef Express has added a new dimension to the multicultural dining experience in Lee which now features Peruvian, Vietnamese, French, Italian, and Mexican fare along with traditional American cuisine.

Verma is also the third new restaurateur within the past year to participate in the decade-long revitalization of Lee's Main Street business district. In October, David DeLoria of Pittsfield purchased the popular Cakewalk Bakery & Cafe. Last spring, Vern Kennedy of Canaan, NY, acquired the Morgan House Restaurant & Inn, which has anchored the downtown business community since the mid-1800s. Those established eateries have also undergone aesthetic and logistic improvements in recent weeks in order to make customer service better.
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Brattleboro chef is fed agency's top young VT entrepreneur

Gretchen Hardy
A Brattleboro, VT, restaurateur has been name the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) "Young Vermont Entrepreneur of the Year."

Gretchen Hardy, 32, of The Porch Cafe and Catering, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She traveled extensively throughout Europe and India, working on farms, in vineyards and bakeries. After completing her degree, she moved to Vail, CO, to work in several fine dining restaurants.

In 2010, she teamed up with local chef Bo Foard to create Hardy Foard Catering. The partnership immediately flourished.

At first, they focused on catering and used a tiny commercial kitchen. In September 2013, they built a food truck called The Porch, based in the Stow Road Industrial Park in West Chesterfield. The food truck and catering service quickly outgrew its quarters when it expanded to handle dozens of weddings and events a year, so in May 2015 The Porch Cafe moved to 648 Putney Road in nearby Brattleboro.

Both partners' spouses and other relatives are involved in various aspects of what has become a bustling family venture. Hardy will be honored at an awards ceremony on June 14 at the Middlebury Inn along with Vermonters in other commercial categories selected  by the SBA.
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Kitchen-in-a-box shipped to new Saratoga restaurant

A made-to-order restaurant kitchen arrives.  (DigitalFirstMedia photo)
• From The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Chef Julia Sanzen was thrilled Thursday when her custom kitchen arrived from Canada. The kitchen, inside a steel shipping container, traveled hundreds of miles by tractor trailer before being installed in its new permanent home at 35 Maple Avenue in downtown ...

This kitchen will be the heart of new eatery, Farmers Hardware, a fast-casual breakfast and brunch spot to be opened in mid-June by co-founders Sanzen and Tyler Russell.

The Maple Avenue location, a large three-story brick building most recently used as a bike shop and a garden store, doesn’t have a kitchen or the capacity to house one, Sanzen said. “So, we literally thought outside the box by building a custom, commercial kitchen inside of a steel shipping container.”
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Update: Lark + Lily's final day set for May 26

Danny Urschel
Sylvia Lilly
UPDATE (5/20/17): The Lark & Lily Wine Bar & Kitchen on downtown Albany's Lark Street has set its final day as next Friday (May 26). Owner Silvia Lilly has sold the business to chef Danny Urschel, who in early June will reopen it under the Mio Posto name he used for a Saratoga spot that was destroyed by fire last year.

(Original post of 4/7/17) 

Mio Posto to remerge in new city,
in place of Lark + Lily


This a tale of two restaurants with a definite twist. Or two.

Mio Posto, which Danny Urschel had owned for about two years before it was destroyed by a fire last Thanksgiving that also wreaked havoc on several adjoining restaurants in Saratoga Springs, will be reopening, although not in Saratoga.

The Lark + Lily Wine Bar & Kitchen on Albany's Lark Street, which Silvia Lilly created after purchasing what had been The Wine Bar and Bistro On Lark, will disappear before it even reaches its second anniversary. Here's the deal, as reported on the Times Union's Table Hopping blog:

Johnny Rockets opens new venue at Times Union Center

Johnny Rockets is open for business at the Times Union Center.

The burger restaurant made a soft opening Thursday night in a corner of the arena with Handcrafted Draft House and Sports Bar. It is a project from Lou Chicatelli, who owns Johnny Rockets franchises in Guilderland's Crossgates Mall and in Middletown. The other Johnny Rockets venue in the Greater Capital Region is at the Six Flags Great Escape facility in Queensbury.

The Times Union Center venue is so new it is not posted among the chain's locations on the company website.

Meanwhile, work continues on a $19.6 million renovation of the South Pearl Street facility.
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Troy restaurants offer discounts during Hidden Garden Tour

At least 10 restaurants are offering discounts as incentives to attend Troy's 18th annual Hidden Garden Tour, scheduled for Thursday (May 25).

The rain-or-shine event, sponsored by the Friends of Prospect Park​ will run from 4 to 7:30 p.m. It is a self-guided walking tour that  features private gardens in the Historic Sage, Washington Park, and adjoining neighborhoods in downtown Troy. Parking and check-in are at the Russell Sage College parking lot on the east corner of First and Division streets. Additional parking will be available farther south on First Street.

Admission is $10. Tickets are available online at  or at the check-in table. Tour maps are provided. All proceeds benefit ongoing projects in Prospect Park.

Restaurants offering a variety of discounts include Muddaddy Flats​, The Daily Grind, O'Brien's Public House, The Greek House​, Plumb Oyster Bar​, Footsy Magoo's, Psychedelicatessen​, Illium Cafe & Bistro​, and The Beer Diviner Troy. Free light refreshments also will be available at Carmen's Cafe, 198 First Street, from 4 to 6 p.m., followed at 6:30 by a dinner there to benefit  The Friends of Prospect Park. The prix fixe menu will be posted online. For dinner reservations at $38 each, call 518-326-2064.

Other businesses that are part of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District (BID)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Golden Corral buffet chain adding every-day brunch service

Brunch is an ever-growing presence on the American restaurant scene, what the industry refers to as "a profitable day part." So, it is not surprising that a major chain is about to jump on the bandwagon.

Golden Corral, which counts three locations in the Capital Region among its 500 venues nationwide, will debut brunch nationwide on Monday (May 22) as an every-day offering from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu will include such items as strawberry cheesecake French toast, made-to-order eggs and omelets, biscuits and gravy, sausage-and-egg skillets, carved glazed ham, fried chicken, pot roast and miniature burgers.

CEO Lance Trenary said in a news release that the chain has been testing brunch in Albuquerque, NM, Jacksonville, FL, Mobile, AL, and Greenville, NC, for the past six months and it has led to higher sales, traffic and profit.

Former Saratoga Diner to become site of 'workforce housing'

The former diner (Gazette photo)
In a stretch of South Broadway in Saratoga Springs where buildings generally are well maintained, the former Saratoga Diner stands out. It's a dump.

The deteriorating structure with its forlorn signature horse statue on the roof does not, however, seem  likely to ever be a restaurant again. An Indianapolis developer has unveiled plans to demolish it and use the site to construct 110 units of what it calls "workforce housing."

According to a story in today's Daily Gazette, "the mixed-use project would provide affordable housing options for the city’s service and hospitality workers, hospital workers, teachers, new police and fire department recruits, young professionals and empty nesters who are being priced out of a city that has seen several luxury condos and high-end apartments added in recent years. Fourteen units would be reserved for military veterans in need of permanent homes."

Go here for the full story.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Afghan-Med restaurant coming to Latham venue

The restaurant building at 471 Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham is about to open as something a lot more upscale that it ever has hosted.

The Niazi family hopes to introduce Zaitoon Kitchen, which will offer Afghan and Mediterranean cuisine, in soft opening mode around May 29. In that space, it will succeed Beff’s PWB which itself succeeded a Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry.

The family tells this story on the restaurant's website: "Zaitoon in the Arabic language translates to Olive. Our restaurant is the brainchild of an Afghan couple that immigrated to the United States but kept roots in their beloved country. Raising seven kids in this great country and owning multiple restaurants in the NYC area. The father and two sons decided to spread their mother's kitchen in a modern casual way. Adding a modern touch to the traditional recipes. Zaitoon Kitchen believes in an atmosphere that makes old and new generations comfortable. We want to touch your palate, asking for more."

The halal menu features meat from cage-free animals. It is divided into rice dishes (with chicken, lamb, beef), salads, naan wraps, as well as several small polates and desserts. The entire lineup is available online.

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