Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Edible Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 



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Burger 21 offering customers a shot at free burgers

The Burger 21 chain will be offering free burgers for some customers in May.

Any customer who makes a purchase of at least $6 between May 8 and May 11 and scans a loyalty receipt will receive a chit for a free Burger 101, valid through May 28 which is -- ta dah! -- National Hamburger Day. A Burger 101 is a traditional hamburger made with certified Angus Beef, served with lettuce and tomato on a toasted brioche bun.

“While we pride ourselves on offering one of the most diverse burger menus in the country, there is still time to enjoy a classic,” says corporate chef Mike Remes.

Burger 21 offers 10 different beef burger patty options, as well as, chicken, seafood, turkey and veggie burgers along with chicken tenders, hot dogs and salads.

The lone venue in the Capital Region is at 622 New Loudon Road (Route 9) in Latham. Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Phone: (518) 218-6406.
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Au Bon Pain adds spring items to menu

The Au Bon Pain cafe bakery chain, which has three of its Capital Region locations in Albany's Empire State Plaza, today unveiled several new menu items for spring.

Its goal is to provide a healthier set of choices. Among them, a new sprouted grain roll  available with the Signature Farmhouse Omelet breakfast sandwich and Turkey Swiss BLT, as well as the nostalgia-inspired Strawberry Bon Tart.The menu will be available through June 12.

“As Au Bon Pain continues to create our own unique twists to our seasonal menus, we always keep it top of mind our customers want options that make them feel good, whether it’s something fresh and healthy or buttery and indulgent,” says executive chef, Katherine See. “We strive to create a balance in our cafés, starting with high-quality ingredients for nutritious and well-balanced meals, but we also know no one wants to live on greens alone, so we’re having fun with items that can satisfy a sweet tooth as well."

In addition to the Albany locations, open weekdays only, Au Bon Pain also has a venue in the Glens Falls Hospital.
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Monday, March 27, 2017

IRS seizes, will sell Sandy's Clam Bar in Glens Falls

From The Post-Star
GLENS FALLS -- The U.S. Department of Treasury has seized the Sandy’s Clam Bar building at 41 South Street in downtown for failure of owner Richard Mozal to pay Internal Revenue Service taxes.

The IRS filed a lien on the property in July 2012 for unpaid federal wage and investment taxes, according to Warren County deed records. A public auction of the building has been scheduled for 11 a.m. April 27, with a minimum bid of $88,454, according to a “public auction sale” notice dated March 20.

Redevelopment of the building, a longtime popular venue for live music, would fit with the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative plan, which focuses on South Street, said Mayor Jack Diamond.
Go here for the full story.
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Update: Ex-Chubby's site in Schenectady to become library

The controversial site (Gazette photo)
UPDATE (3/27/17): Schenectady County officials today announced that a former controversial store will be razed to make room for a new library. It had been under consideration to be a pizza venue, but the county -- which owns an adjacent building -- is acquiring it and will demolish both buildings. 

(Originally published 3/6/17)

What's in a name? Plenty, especially in the food world.

Say "Chubby's" in Troy, for example, and it conjures memories of a tiny group of sub shops that lasted until just a few years ago and fed a lot of satisfied customers over the years.

But, say "Chubby's"  in Schenectady's Mount Pleasant neighborhood and what comes to mind is a convenience store that generated more than 500 public safety calls over a nine-month period in 2015 and has been closed for months.

Now comes word that a local businessman is proposing to reopen the controversial Crane Street location as a pizza shop and convenience store called Yankee Pizza & Deli. The Daily Gazette has a nice story on the controversial plan. You can read it here.

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4 new vendors for Troy Kitchen -- including chopped cheese

Chopped cheese, a NYC hit
Owner Cory Nelson has signed leases with four very different new food vendors to replenish his Troy Kitchen food court that has seen several original occupants leave.

As usual, he's letting the information trickle out first via the Times Union, and promises to actually tell the public the names of the vendors once every few weeks beginning sometime next month. You know, building suspense.

The vendors will specialize in halal street food, soul food, Jamaican food, and  chopped cheese sandwiches. The latter is a sort of loose-meat cheesburger sub that for some reason has become so popular in Harlem and the Bronx that, back in November, The New York Times published a feature on it called "The Chopped Cheese’s Sharp Rise to Fame."

The year-old Troy Kitchen, located at 77 Congress Street, is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and brunch on  Sunday.
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Capital Bistro's new head chef unveils his menu

Matthew Hughes
Matthew Hughes obviously is a bistro kind of guy. The former New World Bistro Bar sous chef now is heading the kitchen at Capital Bistro, where a new menu debuts today.

Says co-owner Chris Pratt, "I am so excited to welcome our new chef ... Matt is a longtime Albany cook who has worked alongside some of Albany's finest chefs. ... Matt has designed a new menu that blends old and new cuisine to create a true bistro menu. He is also very passionate about sourcing locally and utilizing sustainable produce, meats, and fish."

There are several dishes on the new menu that seem to have become a requirement for bistros everywhere these days -- poutine and crispy pork belly, for example. But, among other more interesting-sounding offerings are a short rib Stroganoff, an orange marinated hanger steak with a bacon and sweet potato mash, and an unusual trout saltimbocca.

Capital Bistro is located at 55 North Pearl Street in Albany. Hours: from 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Phone: (518) 694-3122.
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2 cafe rehab projects on Troy Planning Commission agenda

Former Uncle Sam's House
A pair of proposed cafes and a convenience store/deli are on this week's agenda of the Troy Planning Commission. Both need to go through the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and Site Plan Review processes.

The first cafe proposal, from Kyle Engstrom, would convert office space at 40 River Street to a cafe and four dwelling units. The building was headquarters of the community gardens organization Capital Roots until it moved in 2014.

Engstrom is an architect from Brooklyn who was in the news several years ago when he and his wife Graciela Monroy, also an architect, purchased the former Casale's Tavern building in Troy's Little Italy neighborhood as a rehab project.

The second cafe proposal, from John Ambuhl, would be a cafe and "apartment fit up" at 2423 5th Avenue. The limestone-faced Beaux Arts-style building, just north of the Collar City Bridge, has had a number of uses since its construction in 1914, including being home to the Seton Day Nursery and to Uncle Sam's House, a facility for low-income military veterans.

Ambuhl, who works in information technology for the New York State Teachers Retirement System, has rehabbed several buildings in Troy. When he gets this one completed his wife,  Susan M. Dunckel, will be moving her Sweet Sues business in. She tells me Josh Coletto of the Chefs' Consortium and formerly chef at Finnbar's Pub in Troy "has agreed to help with the menu and event planning."

The convenience store being proposed by Naseem Tariq of Waterford involves conversion of the former Sue's Place diner at 668 Second Avenue, locally known for the "Heart of Lansingburgh" sign hanging out front.

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. this Wednesday in the fifth-floor City Council Chambers in City Hall, 433 River Street.

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Brewpub part of latest Troy warehouse renovation project

A brewpub and apartments are targeted for this former paint factory.

Another brewpub is in the works as part of a multi-use renovation of yet one more former warehouse in Troy, a city known for such conversions and for a growing number of such drinking establishments.

This one is located in the North Central neighborhood at 669 River Street, on the north side of the street between Middleburgh and North streets. If all goes well with the estimated $2 million project -- still in the conceptual stage, but expected to also include 13 apartments and/or offices on the upper floors -- it will join the neighboring The Hangar On the Hudson event and concert space and The Ale House as part of an embryonic entertainment neighborhood.

But, even if all the necessary permitting goes through quickly, don't get ready to drop in for a cold one anytime soon. The company that handled the sale of the 30,000-square-foot brick structure advertised it as "without heat, electric, plumbing and in need of serious repair and rehabilitation. It is not a property for an inexperienced builder/developer/users." At one time, the building was home to the William Connors Paint Manufacturing Co.

The city's Zoning Board recently approved an application from a Cohoes business entity called 669 River Street LLC for a major variance for parking. And, the full project is on the Planning Board's Wednesday agenda. The LLC is a partnership of Mike Phinney and John Haynes, who are partners in The Local Pub and Teahouse in Saratoga Springs, and Brian McCandless.

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. this Wednesday in the fifth-floor City Council Chambers in City Hall, 433 River Street.

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Update: Another Jersey Mike's sub shop opens locally

UPDATE (3/27/17): The latest Jersey Mike's sub shop has opened at 3057 Route 50, Saratoga Springs. The franchise owner is Jonathan Trager.

(Originally published 1/27/16)

How strong is the Jersey Mike's sandwich shop chain that just entered the Capital Region? Pretty darned strong, according to a major industry publication.

According to QSR, "Jersey Mike’s Subs, known for its authentic fresh sliced/fresh grilled subs, continued its strong growth in 2015, opening 197 new locations around the country and exceeding the 1,000-unit mark. Following its successful recipe of deliberate, well-considered expansion, Jersey Mike’s has more than doubled in size in just three years."

Venues in Glenmont and Clifton Park are among those new units. The chain, which began in 1956, expects to double its size again by 2019.

"In 2015, Jersey Mike’s continued attracting experienced franchisees, awarding 97 territories representing nearly 200 restaurants. More than 70% of the territories awarded went to existing owners, the first time that multi-unit operators outnumbered single-unit franchisees in the Jersey Mike’s system. ... [The company]  also continued seeing success with its nontraditional development strategy, awarding and opening its first casino location at the popular Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The company also opened several university sites on New Jersey campuses."
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Watervliet's 'Wing War' seeking more competitors

Do elks have wings? They do now. After eight years of the competition being held elsewhere, the Watervliet Elks Lodge will host the 9th annual "Wing War" event on Saturday, April 8.

The event, previously held at the smaller Ancient Order of Hibernians venue, is a fundraiser for the Watervliet Civic Center. Among entries so far are the Black Bear Inn, Tug Boat Tavern, Muddy's, Deacon Blue's, the Hibernians, and the host Elks. Any restaurant or organization interested in participating can obtain details  by calling the Civic Center at 273-5922.

A panel of judges will conduct a blind taste test to select the winner. Visitors will be able to sample a variety of wings from 3 to 6 p.m. and vote on a people's choice award. Admission is $15. A cash bar will be available, and raffles and a DJ will be included in the program.
 
The Elks Lodge is located at 501 4th Avenue. Phone: (518) 273-9878.
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Chain links

Your connections to news items about chains operating in the Greater Capital Region:
Boston Market introduces new rotisserie chicken flavor

Study: Chick-fil-A is still the king of customer service

Chili's names new EVP to lead culinary innovation
RBI expects to complete Popeyes purchase Monday

Sonic's Lil’ Doggies and Lil’ Chickies are back

Dunkin' unveils spring flavors, including coconut crème pie
Denny’s introduces new craft burgers in limited-time menu
Red Robin offering salmon burger, entrée for limited time

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

There's wisdom in a bumper sticker


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Crossgates hotel plan would kill a Ted's Fish Fry location

Fans of the local Ted's Fish Fry group will have one less location to visit if the owner of Crossgates Mall has its way.

Pyramid Cos. has submitted plans to build a five-story hotel adjacent to the mall across Western Avenue from the Beth Abraham Jacob Cemetery. Clearing the site for hotel construction would require demolishing the Ted’s Fish Fry on Western and an adjacent brick house, according to what was revealed at a meeting of the Guilderland Planning Board this week.

There are four other Ted's locations in the Capital Region: 203 Wolf Road, which is only minutes from the Guilderland location, 447 3rd Avenue in Watervliet, 636 Route 9 in Latham, 250 2nd Avenue in Troy, and 700 Hoosick Road in Brunswick.

Ted’s Fish Fry is a family-owned business that was founded more than 60 years ago by Ted Deeb, and now run by his son S.K. Deeb. The company website has a thorough and interesting history of the business.
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Burlington pizzeria expands -- by buying 2 neighbors

From SevenDays.com
The owners of Pizzeria Verità, a popular Italian restaurant on St. Paul Street in Burlington, VT,  have been looking to expand their business for some time.
They checked out possibilities in Cincinnati and Portland, ME, among other places, co-owner Leslie McCrorey Wells told Seven Days. Then they looked at a bit closer to home — next door — and made a deal.

Wells and her business partner, John Rao, are buying neighboring Trattoria Delia and Sotto Enoteca from Tom and Lori Delia. ... The new owners expect to take over the neighboring establishments in the second week of April, according to Wells.
Go here for the full story.
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