Tuesday, September 1, 2015

July's most-read Notes On Napkins postings

Apparently the debut of the Funnybone Comedy Club & Restaurant at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland last week was a popular topic. My posting about it was the most-read posting in July, topping the second-place posting by nearly 30%.

Here's a lost of the top 10 most-read July postings. Note that three of them are updates on previously-posted popular items. If you missed any of them, you can simply click on the headline to go to the posting.

1. Update: Strong opening for Funny Bone at Crossgates

2. Update: Ginger Man, Washington Tavern sold

3. Update: Upstate's 1st BurgerFi open Wednesday in Latham

4. Hudson-Chatham Winery debuts 2 collaborative beers

5. Christopher-LaVine eyeing project-within-a-project in Troy

6. Brialy leaves, owner takes over Epicurean kitchen

7. Villa Balsamo back, with year-round promise

8. Recall: Deep Coriander Power a salmonella risk

9. (tie) New interactive website tours NYS wineries

    Today's ride on the Capital Region foodie-go-round (8/5)

Cars crashes into Schenectady's Blue Ribbon

Pre-crash condition
SCHENECTADY -- If you have thoughts of dropping by the Blue Ribbon Family Restaurant & Bakery on Wednesday, you'd better call ahead.

A car accidentally backed into the restaurant, located at 1801 State Street, shortly after noon today, causing extensive structural damage and injuring several people by flying debris. According to fire officials, one person was transported to Albany Medical Center.

The restaurant was evacuated as a precaution. City officials were checking it for structural safety, and a Thursday re-opening is expected. You can keep up with the situation on Facebook. Phone: 393-2600.

Update: North Adams eatery vs. city, round 2

UPDATE (9/1/15): The owners of the Freight Yard Pub & Restaurant may have won a lawsuit against a North Adams, MA, city agency, but collecting the judgment is proving to be a problem. In mid-August, the City Council rejected the idea of helping the Redevlopment Authority make payments, and the authority has not made any on its own. Thus, the restaurant is seeking more help in the courts.

(Originally published 7/9/15))

NORTH ADAMS, MA -- It took four years to settle, but the Freight Yard Pub & Restaurant has come out on top of a lawsuit over a major parking problem.

In a final action to a judicial ruling a year ago that the restaurant was owed money by the City of North Adams, the municipality's Redevelopment Agency --- which is the restaurant's landlord --- has agreed to pay the business $287,575. Some of the settlement will go into escrow to cover the restaurant's back rent to the city.

The lawsuit came about because of loss of revenue during reconstruction of the Hadley Overpass. During what turned out to be a three-year project, the 36-space parking lot under the bridge was altered in violation of the tenant's lease with the city agency, something the plaintiff labeled "a constructive eviction" because lack of parking severely cut into its business. The court agreed.

Crossgates seeking replacement for Latitude 360 fiasco

From The Business Review
Executives at Crossgates Mall ... are talking to operators that can potentially take over the space where the much-hyped Latitude 360 entertainment venue was supposed to open and run a similar business there. 
Joe Castaldo, director of shopping center management at Pyramid Cos. in Syracuse, owner of Crossgates, said, "We'd like to do it sooner rather than later."  
Castaldo said there are other companies that run businesses similar to Latitude 360, which spent millions outfitting a two-story, 50,000-square-foot space with a "luxury" bowling alley, sports bar, restaurant, night club and arcade. Those companies include Revolutions at the Destiny USA mega-mall in Syracuse and Lucky Strikes at the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, outside of New York City. Both shopping centers are owned by Pyramid. 
Meanwhile, Latitude 360 announced late last week it will take over management of Revolutions in Syracuse and another Revolutions owned by Frank Entertainment in Pennsylvania, with the intention of buying both locations.
Go here for the full story.

Amsterdam chef-restaurateur dead at 39

PERTH -- Funeral services were held Saturday for Antonella Cassella, owner-chef of Nicolino's Restaurant and Vino/Wine Bar.

Cassella, 39, who was born in Amsterdam and attended Broadalbin-Perth High School, began her restaurant career as a child in the family restaurant that her parents, Nicolino and Lina Cassella, opened in 1984. She took over the business after her father's death in 2004.

Her full obituary is available online.

The restaurant, with its distinctive stone front, is located at 4515 Route 30, Amsterdam. Phone: 842-4907.

Today's ride on the foodie-go-round


• The East Cove Restaurant in Lake George has been sold, ending a 47-year run for Peter and Debbie Smith who founded it in 1968. The Adirondack cabin-style restaurant, located at Route 9L and Beach Road, has been purchased by a neighboring business, the Garrison Restaurant, which Pete Smith owned during the 1950s and '60s. Thanks to Marv Cermak, the Times Union correspondent, for sharing that information.


• A new downtown enterprise, the Collar City Sweet Shoppe, has opened at 45 Third Street. It is owned by Latham residents Ron and Amy Farrigan. He has been a candy distributor for Bobrow Distributing Corporation of Clifton Park. The venue formerly was an accountant's office. The new shop carries an extensive line of candies, from 18 flavors of jellybeans to truffles, chocolates, old-fashioned rock candy, sugar-free candies, cotton candy and popcorn. It also will carry seasonal items. The Farrigans say they also are considering opening another shop, on River Street, to sell gift baskets and the like. The Sweet Shoppe hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and to 4 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 224-3387.


• The Ha Ha Hookahs Lounge in Troy soon may be serving alcohol as well as smoke and several non-inhalation items. The business, one of two such owned by Neil Blackman of Rock Hill, Sullivan County, received approval from the city Planning Commission at its recent August meeting for his request to do so. No other details or a  timeline have been announced for the implementation of the service. Blackman, who also owns a hookah lounge in Syracuse, is the owner of Smoker's Choice Cigarette and Tobacco Outlets, which has more than 40 retail locations in New York and Pennsylvania. Locally, Ha Ha Hookahs Lounge is located in the Hudson River Commons shopping complex, formerly called Troy Plaza, on Hoosick Street (Route 7), just off the Collar City Bridge. In addition to the menu of things you can suck into your lungs -- if you really think that's an intelligent thing to do --  you can see the refreshment menu here. Phone: 326-0518.


McDonald's is making some changes in its menus. It is using butter instead of margarine on its McMuffin sandwiches, biscuits and bagels. It also is toasting its buns for an extra five seconds, which will raise their temperature by 15 degrees. And, for fans of its burgers, the "quarter pound" mantra has changed to 4.25 ounces for the pre-cooked item. That's because the 4-ounce version that long has been its standard shrinks to a mere 2.8 ounces after cooking. The attention to small things is part of a larger effort to stem losses after seven consecutive quarters of same-store sales decline.


• The Subway sandwich chain, the largest in the world, is about to undergo its first brand overhaul in seven years. That is in response to a 3% decline in sales last year, and several surveys say it is dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 on the list of favorite fast-food chains. Among the changes are a redesign of its 42,000 stores rather than opening new ones, and making more menu changes beyond such recent moves as announcing it will phase out antibiotics in its meats, such as removing all ingredients containing additives and fillers.

Update 2: Debut near for 2nd restaurant at Roosevelt Inn

Roosevelt Inn & Suites
UPDATE 2 (9/1/25): 13 North, one of two restaurants created this summer on the Roosevelt Inn campus south of downtown, will open within the next few weeks in renovated space that once was home to the Packhorse restaurant. "We still have ongoing work, but we are shooting for the end of September if everything goes smooth," say the owners. The other restaurant, Orchid's Caribbean, opened on the last day of July. Furniture has been moved into 13 North, as has a large indoor charcoal grill, and the outside deck dining area has been completed.

UPDATE (7/31/15): Orchid's, the first of two revived restaurants relocated to the grounds of Roosevelt Inn & Suites, opened for business today. The breakfast and lunch and dinner menus are available online. Phone: 886-9526. No opening date has been announced for the other project, The D-Line Pub.

(Originally published 6/8/15)

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Two shuttered restaurants will get new life in separate buildings on the Roosevelt Inn & Suites campus just south of downtown on Route 9

The D-Line Pub, which closed its Ballston Spa operation last month, will reappear under the name 13 North Restaurant, a nod to the nearby Northway Exit 13.

As reported a week ago, Orchid's Jamaican-American Restaurant -- originally in Rotterdam then in Schenectady and then closed last year -- will be revived there as Orchid's Caribbean Restaurant & Lounge.

The two restaurants will operate in separate buildings. 13 North will be in the area formerly home to such restaurants as the Packhorse and El Mariachi III. It is shooting for an opoening in time for the Saratoga flat track racing season. Orchid's will be in the building behind it.

Fire-damaged Lansingburgh spot may become b&b

TROY -- A residential building damaged in an arson blaze back in January could become a bed-and-breakfast operation if plans submitted to the city receive approval.

The project involves the two-story building at 803 2nd Avenue that was damaged when an arsonist or arsonists set fire to the adjacent unoccupied 809 2nd Avenue structure, one of a series of still-unsolved arsons in the city's Lansingburgh neighborhood.

Branda Miller, who lists an address of 893 1st Avenue, has received approval from the city's Zoning Board of Appeals for the non-forming use, although additional city approvals are required. No further details of the project have been released.

Troy barber shop owner seeks OK for sandwich shop

TROY -- Lou Caruso is seeking city permission to convert what used to be his barber shop into a sandwich shop and catering business.

The venue is 126 College Avenue, a small stand-alone building that currently is not a conforming use for what Caruso wants it to be. It is two doors from the Big Apple Pizza restaurant and had been home to Caruso's shop known as Lou's Cut and Style.

The application is on the agenda for tonight's 6 p.m. Planning Commission at City Hall, located on the fifth floor of the Hedley Building, 433 River Street.

Monday, August 31, 2015

New interactive website tours NYS wineries

The new website
New York is a very big state, and, with 400 winery locations dotting a 525-mile swath from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the eastern tip of  Long Island, keeping track of them can be quite a chore.

However, it has just become a bit easier with the unveiling by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation of a new online tool that can be used to take a virtual tour of any and all regions and individual wineries in the state.

The website is called New York Wine Country. It's a simple name, matched by the simplicity of navigating it. Visitors go to the home page, where they are asked to select a region -- or a sub-region in the cases of the Finger Lakes, Long Island, and New York City. One click and all the wineries in the chosen area are displayed. Another click on any of them takes the visitor via Google Maps that includes the name, address, and phone number, and provides a live link to its website.

The site also includes what the NYWGF calls an "interactive infographic" that includes a handful of recommendations in each region for dining, lodging, and other tourism attractions.

The site was created as "the electronic companion to our fabulous 'New York Wine Country' bookazine -- a coffee table magazine, and for both projects we partnered with Wine Enthusiast magazine," says NYWGF President Jim Trezise, which explains why the portal for the new site is through the magazine's website.

The "New York Wine Country" book is a 140-page collection of photos, articles and advertisements specific to the wine industry. It is a supplement to Wine Enthusiast magazine. It was distributed with the magazine's September edition and through the wineries that advertised in it, thus potentially reaching about 300,000 consumers.

"With a combination of winery advertising to raise private sector funds, and the state matching [those] funds, we were able to co-create a publication which we believe reflects the progress, present, and promise of the New York wine industry, from Long Island to Lake Erie and everywhere in between," Trezise said.

He also said both projects were made possible by the state's Craft Beverage Marketing and Promotion Program, created to expand all aspects of the New York wine industry, "which we greatly appreciate."