Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cooperstown Cheese Co. ramps up inspections after listeria

From the Oneonta Star
An Otsego County company is promising more-stringent testing after a batch of locally sourced milk led to a positive test for listeria in several of its cheese products and a voluntary recall earlier this month.

According to Sharon Tomaselli, co-owner of the Cooperstown Cheese Company on Route 28 in Milford, the listeria has been traced to a bad batch of milk from a local farm. She said the farm was a temporary provider of milk to her company because of statewide shortages, and business with that farm had already stopped before the outbreak.

Tomaselli said most of the milk her company uses is tested, but now it will shift to testing every batch."With this farm, we tested seven out of 10 batches," she said. "Now we are going to go to 100% testing."

A Cooperstown Cheese Company post on Facebook last week said the company was "mortified" by the recall and would work hard to regain the trust of its customers.

'Free Sushi Day' Thursday at P.F. Chang's venues

Making a California roll
Interested in a piece of sushi? How about a piece of free sushi?

You can get some by visiting the P.F. Chang's restaurant in Colonie Center or any of 200 other chain locations on Thursday. That's "Free Sushi Day," a one-day-only event for dine-in guests.

A free spicy tuna roll or California roll will be available for the asking at lunch, happy hour, and dinner with no purchase necessary.

P.F. Chang’s sushi is hand rolled to order and made with rice grown exclusively in the U.S.

Limitations: While the offer will be valid all day Thursday, it will not be available for catering and to-go orders. Limited to one free roll per guest, but not limited to a maximum per table, so if not everyone in your party likes sushi there is no prohibition on everyone ordering a freebie nevertheless. It cannot be combined with any other offer.

Chain Links

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

McDonald’s plans to pump up the value in 2018

Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) in aggressive growth mode  

Dickey's Barbecue Pit celebrates Halloween with 'Kids Eat Free' promotion

Auntie Anne’s turns up heat with sriracha pretzels

Blaze Pizza: 'Momentum in every aspect of our business' 

Smashburger chain making a quiet turnaround

Co-founder Tom Ryan (photo provided)
Smashburger, one of several smaller burger chains that have entered the Capital Region market in recent years -- Elevation Burger, Burger 21, Five Guys, etc. -- is coming off a somewhat shaky financial footing.

The 370-location chain, with venues in Colonie, Niskayuna, Clifton Park, and Saratoga Springs, was founded in  2007 by former McDonald's and Quizno's executives and quickly went into expansion mode. However, they ran into stalled marketing efforts and went through a string of CEOs in quick succession.

Now, the company has achieved improved sales and increased traffic in recent months as a result of developing new burgers, increasing advertising, adopting new technology, and moving workers around.

Go here for a Nation's Restaurant News interview about the changes with Smashburger co-founder and CEO Tom Ryan.

Is restaurant industry 'meathead culture' tottering?

John Besh
From Nation's Restaurant News
News of sexual harassment allegations involving prominent New Orleans restaurateur [and TV personality] John Besh and his company has many in the restaurant industry wondering whether the tide is turning on bad behavior in kitchens.

The allegations were revealed in a New Orleans Times-Picayune report on Saturday. By Monday, Besh had stepped down as CEO of the restaurant group he co-owns, which operates 11 concepts including the celebrated August, Borgne, Dominica and Johnny Sánchez.

Knowing the news was coming, former partner -- and celebrated chef in his own right -- Alon Shaya split with Besh weeks ago, and is fighting for trademark rights to the restaurant Shaya, co-owned by Besh’s group. Harrah’s New Orleans casino cut ties with the group, pledging to rename its Besh Steak location. Local television stations said they would no longer show Besh’s programs.

Celebrity chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain on Twitter called it the beginning of the end of the “institutionalized meathead culture” within the industry.
Go here for the rest of the story.

Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 




Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

• Dante's Pizzeria has moved to a new location, 14 Spring Avenue, in Troy. It is the site of the former Fitzie's market, opposite Sacred Heart, just off Pawling Avenue. Dante's had operated at 3rd and Jefferson since 1980. Its menu of pizzas, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and beverages is available online.

• It's rare that a Chinese restaurant restricts itself to Chinese cuisine these days. The newly-opened Lee's Dynasty in Adams, MA, shows that on its menu which includes dishes from Thailand, Korea and other Asian cultures, incuding traditional Chinese regional dishes usually not found on Chinese-American menus. Owner Xing Li opened the business at 131 Columbia Street in the 2,200-square-foot former Berkshire County Stove building he purchased in January for $125,000. A 90-square-foot vestibule was added to the structure. Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9:30 p.m.

• Hong Yu has operated a dumpling cart for the past 17 years on Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, VT. Now, he has opened a retail shop, Hong's Chinese Dumplings, at 77 Pearl Street, former home to the Radio Deli. Her official opening was held on Saturday, assisted by more than $10,000 that 300 people contributed to her Go Fund Me campaign. Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with eventual plans to extend hours of operation to seven days a week until 8 p.m.

DEVELOPING

A Little Rice Ball, specializing in Japanese-inspired street food, is being developed for a late November/early December debut in Troy. The venue is located in the former Casale's Tavern at Fourth and Liberty streets. It is the first venture for JP Tucci, 25, a Troy resident with local restaurant experience that includes the former Troy location of Bombers Burrito Bar. According to a story on timesunion.com, "The investor behind A Little Rice Ball is Matt Baumgartner, founder and former owner of Bombers and current principal owner of Wolff’s Biergarten and The Olde English Pub & Pantry."

Monday, October 23, 2017

Specialty wine bar to be part of Mohawk Harbor development

The River House complex under construction. (photo provided)
The publisher of Chilled magazine is developing a venue to dispense some of what he writes about.

Anthony Graziano, whose media and marketing company is dedicated to the beer, wine, and spirits industries, is developing a wine bar called The Shaker & Vine that will be part of the River House, a retail/apartment complex on the waterfront at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady. That will make it a neighbor of the new Rivers Casino & Resort.

According to a news release from the Galesi Group, developer of Mohawk Harbor, a central feature of The Shaker & Vine will be a self-serve wine dispenser that will allow customers to pour a tasting portion or full glass of up to 60 different wines. It also will offer a full bar, specialty cocktails, and a menu to include gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, charcuterie boards, and chocolate and cheese fondue.

An early 2018 opening is anticipated.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Openings & Closings & Etc. (Updated)


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENINGS 

A ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Monday will mark the official opening of the Empire Fish Market, which has been operating in soft opening mode in Troy's North Central neighborhood for several weeks. The owner of the business is Jay Jackson, who opened the store  at 2952 Sixth Avenue in the former Oaks Cafe & Ministry building, He offers fresh and cooked seafood. The menu is available online, and delivery is available for an extra $2.99. Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Phone: 518-874-1816.

• Shacksbury Cider has scheduled an October 28 opening of its new tasting room at 11 Main Street in Vergennes, VT. Marketing director Alex Consalvo said the event will include food, live music, and cider samplings. The company is collaborating with chef David Chang's Momofuku restaurant group that will serve a beverage from Shacksbury with the working title Momofuku Cuvée.

CLOSINGS 

Bread From Brooklyn, a supplier of baked goods to Upstate businesses that opened a store on Schenectady's Upper Union Street about four months ago, has shut down the operation. The company is blaming a problem with construction of the new City Squire Ale House with ruining its business. Here is its Facebook posting giving its side of the problem: "Official Public Statement ... Three months ago the new owners of the building around the corner and the parking lot, for which my landlord and I have an easement, blocked off that parking lot, making it impossible for my customers to get the bread rolls and bagels that were so popular. Notwithstanding numerous demands, the new 'neighbors' have ignored our rights and continue to block the parking lot, stifling my fledgling bakery on Upper Union Street in Schenectady. Without easy access to our product, customers have not come. So sadly I must close my doors. Our lawyers recommend that we say nothing further ... It was a pleasure serving Schenectady. I truly appreciate you all."

 • A longtime Pittsfield, MA, bagel business is on the brink of closing. Owner Susan Gordon has announced that Bagels Too will have to stop serving food as of October 31 under a deal she has worked out with the building's owner who wants to repurpose the 166 North Street space her business has occupied for 30 years. She still is seeking a buyer for the business itself.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Chain Links

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

•  Smashburger’s ‘quiet turnaround’

•  KFC hides Colonel’s ‘secret recipe’ on Twitter

How Arby’s inspires its employees

Coffee brewing tips from the experts at Starbucks

• Burger King launches campaign against bullying

Burger 21 launches pizza burger, wedding cake shake 

Chipotle's Halloween celebration returns with $3 burritos 

Subway combating hunger on World Sandwich Day 

Romano's Macaroni Grill chain on brink of collapse

If you're a fan of Romano's Macaroni Grill, a restaurant chain that has operated a venue on Colonie's Wolf Road for decades, you may want to increase your visits there to help the financially troubled company.

The company this week filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid store closures and a restructuring of the Denver-based chain's operations. It recently closed 37 locations, prompting lawsuits by some of the company’s landlords.

According to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, many of the company’s landlords are “seeking to recover damages far in excess of anything they would be entitled to under bankruptcy." Macaroni Grill has 93 company-owned locations and franchises another 23 units.

RedRock Partners LLC of Arizona owns Macaroni Grill, which it acquired from Ignite Restaurant Group Inc. in 2015 for $8 million. In its filing, Macaroni Grill cited a decrease in sales and an increase in labor and commodity costs, which hurt profits.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wineries affected by Napa wildfires will be OK


From Food & Wine magaine
I swear, if I see one more nitwit headline that says 'California’s 2017 Vintage Is Doomed by Smoke,' I’m going to bonk someone over the head with a bottle of Napa Cabernet.

Here’s why. While there’s no question that the wildfires in northern California’s wine regions have filled the air with smoke, that does not mean the 2017 vintage is doomed. Or even particularly damaged. Far from it.

Smoke taint in wine occurs when grapes (or leaves, or vines) absorb smoky compounds and transmit them into the resulting wine. One such case was the 2008 vintage in Mendocino and northern Sonoma, where forest fires in Mendocino cast an eight-day pall of smoke over many vineyards in the area, and as a result many wines suffered from a bitter, ashtray-ish quality (most quality growers whose wines were affected refused to release them). But those fires happened early in the growing season, when grapes were still developing, which is a key difference.
Go here for the full story.

Chain Links

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

Lessons learned from Ruby Tuesday’s sale 

Pizza Hut: Breach impacted 'small percentage of customers'

Taco Bell, Forever 21 launch joint fashion line

Denny's launches seasonal menu

Blaze Pizza unveils new salad and Agua Fresca beverages

TGI Friday's introduces 30% bigger ribs tomorrow

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

DEVELOPING

Saratoga Springs will be getting a Mexican restaurant where a quintessentially American restaurant did business for decades. Dan and Jennifer Pickett, who purchased 408 Broadway last year, are planning to renovate the building and open a restaurant and banquet space called Cantina in what had been home to Lillian's. It was opened in 1974 by Ray Morris, and was a downtown favorite until its final night of service, New Year's Eve 2015. Lillian’s was named for Lillian Russell, a prominent opera singer who spent summers in Saratoga Springs in the late 1800s.

Marrakesh Moroccan Cuisine is being developed in Clifton Park's Town Plaza, 800 Route 146. Job applications are being accepted at the premises. Cuisine from the North African country has long been popular in many parts of the U.S., but only recently has come to the Capital Region. Most prominent is the independently-owned Tara Kitchen, for example, with locations in Schenectady and Troy.

• Patricia Pendergast Novo, former owner of the Crush & Cask wine shop in Saratoga Springs, is developing Taverna Novo, a casual wine bar at 62 Beekman St. in Saratoga, where the Beekman Bar & Eatery was located until it closed several months ago. She said in a Facebook announcement, "Renovations and my special touches will commence very soon and we won’t be open for a few months most likely, as permits need to be obtained ... wine and beer licenses issued ... the works."
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Young Racquette River Brewing already in expansion mode

RRB's main entrance. (photo provided)

Mark Jessie and Joe Hockey are busy enclosing their three-year-old Raquette River Brewing facility in Tupper Lake because winter comes early to the Adirondacks.

They are turning their 3,000-square-foot pavilion into a year-round space, with solid walls on the bottom with windows stretching around the large patio area to maintain the expansive atmosphere. Eventually, there will be another bar area to take the pressure off the currently cramped tap station area, Adirondack furniture will replace the picnic tables, and a utility building will be constructed where the Donnie’s Barbecue food truck now sits. It will move across Balsam Street and may be joined by several other food trucks.

Beyond the structural upheaval, the brewing operation will ramp up as well. Beer production will be more than doubled via a new 10-barrel steam brewing system that will replace the current four-barrel electric brewing system. Overall quite a dramatic change in a young business that began as a modest two-barrel system.

“We knew we would have to expand, but we never thought that things would happen as quickly as they have,” Jessie told the Adirondack Enterprise. (Go here for a detailed story by the Enterprise.)
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

LongHorn Steakhouse chain coming to Capital Region

A typical LongHorn Steakhouse design. (photo provided)
The busy Wolf Road commercial strip in Colonie will be getting yet another restaurant as part of a development project that will include an adjacent four-story hotel.

The LongHorn Steakhouse chain that is part of the Darden group of eight casual-dining restaurants (including Olive Garden in this market; it sold off its Red Lobster line in 2014) will be located next to a Hyatt House extended-stay hotel at 144 Wolf Road. Like Longhorn, Hyatt will be a new brand to the region.

The first LongHorn was opened in Atlanta in 1981 as LongHorn Steaks. It became LongHorn Steakhouse in 1996, by which time it had more than 100 locations. Today, it has grown to more than 480 locations.

The Colonie location will have plenty competition in its niche. On or near Wolf Road there already are the Barnsider, one of the oldest steakhouses in the area, Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse,  Outback, Texas Roadhouse, and others.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Odgen's Martini Menu, a pleasant blast from the past

The original Ogden's at Howard and Lodge streets in Albany.
Restaurants that last more than a decade increasingly are a rarity in the Capital Region. True, we still have the obvious long-term icons such as Jack's Oyster House in downtown Albany and Manory's in downtown Troy, for example, both established in 1913, but others of that ilk are rare.

One of the already-established Albany restaurants I began frequenting in the 1970s and regularly patronized until it closed in 2002 was Ogden's. Housed in a onetime electric company office building, it was a very popular spot for intense business lunches, luscious upscale dinners, and had a great little bar just steps inside the entrance located at the top of a set of steps on a corner of Lodge and Howard streets, now home to the decidedly downscale City Beer Hall.

(The venue reopened under different ownership as Daniel's at Ogden's about a year after the original Ogden's closed, but that was a short-lived effort that paled in comparison to the original).

I was reminded of the old Ogden's the other day when my better half was thumbing through a cookbook and found a copy of "Ogden's Martini Menu" tucked between some pages. It was an eye-opener because the 16 possibilities it contains were imaginative without being too gimmicky like so many modern cocktail menus. Many of the drinks utilized various brands of gin, the original base of the martini compared to today's American preference for vodka.

It also brought back memories of dropping in early for a pre-dinner martini and finding several waitstaff members helping the bartender stuff olives with bleu cheese. They were for an elegant but simple martini called the Parisian made with Belvedere or Beefeaters gin. Substituting a black olive stuffed with a pearl onion turned it into a Black Pearl.

There were a number of what then were considered modern or exotic drinks. Among them:
• The Chocolatini -- Grey Goose vodka or Bombay Sapphire gin with a dash of Godiva Liqueur and Creme DeCacao and a sugar rim.

• Skyy Blue -- Skyy vodka or Bombay Sapphire, Blue Curacao, dash of fresh orange juice, garnished with an orange slice.

• Cosmopolitan -- Absolut Citron, Absolut Kurant, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice, orange twist.
Scroll down for the recipes for all 16 of the martinis on the menu.


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Iconic Saranac Lake restaurant being renovated, expanded

Workers making way for new addition. (photos provided)
Dr. Calli Shelton and Randy Coles, partners in a company called Chicota Inc., are in the process of renovating and expanding a downtown Saranac Lake landmark.

They have applied for a $198,972 grant from the state's economic development arm to help with their $2.2 million project, now in progress, that would bring back the former Dew Drop Inn building at 27 Broadway, on the Saranac River.

Their plans include a restaurant and bar, a cooking school, and an event space as well as a pair of short-stay upstairs apartments in the project. To add to the ambiance, the village has plans to reroute its River Walk alongside the new restaurant’s dining patio.

The state is expected to make public in December a list of projects it will assist from among 17 requests submitted from a variety of business entities in Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Lewis, and Jefferson counties. The Dew Drop Inn revitalization is one of four from that list named a “priority project” by the North Country Regional Economic Council, a step seen as improving its chances for state assistance.

The rear of the building along the river.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Arby's introducing venison sandwich -- to everyone, this time

It's baaack!
The Arby's brand last year became the first national quick-service chain to offer game meat, but it was an extremely limited experiment at just 17 of the company's 3,200 locations.

Now, it has announced it will bring back the New Zealand venison sandwich for a limited time on Saturday, October 21, but this time at all its domestic locations.

The sandwich is comprised of marinated deer meat, juniper-infused Cabernet steak sauce, and fried onions on a toasted specialty roll, priced at $7, which is $2 higher than last year.

Arby's also is introducing an elk sandwich on the same day, but at just three locations, one each in the Denver suburb of Thornton, in Casper, WY, and Billings, MT.

"The positive response to our limited offering of venison last year was so widespread and passionate that we knew we had to find a way to offer it nationwide,” Jim Taylor, Arby's chief marketing officer, said in a press release.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

• What once was Table 19 has been succeeded by Neal's Restaurant on Route 106 in Proctorsville, VT, located roughly midway between Brattleboro and Killington. It currently is in soft opening mode, according to owners Neal Baron and Elizabeth Leninski. Neal's serves American pub fare such as pulledm pork, mac and cheese, frfied chicken, slow-cooked brisket -- with New England touches such as lobster rolls and buttermilk sea scallops. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced. The executive chef is Christopher Vincent.

DEVELOPING

• Aneesa Waheed and Muntasim Shoaib, who own Tara Kitchen locations in Schenectady and Troy, are expanding again, but this time with something a little different. Waheed today announced the development of a Moroccan spa called Tara Hammam that will offer a tapas and champagne bar called Lotus in its lobby. The venue is in the renovated Foster Building complex at State and Lafayette in Schenectady. An opening is projected for the second quarter of 2018.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Chain Links

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

Pizza Hut's new 'Oven Hot Delivery System' is Space Age

Pizza Hut is now using the same material as space blankets, winter jackets, and home insulation to keep pizzas up to 15 degrees hotter than existing boxes during the delivery process.
The brand’s new delivery system contains a pouch made with 3M Thinsulate Insulation thermal technology and a pizza box with crisp sheet inserts.Pizza Hut spent more than two years looking at the entire delivery ecosystem, from the box to the pouch to delivery dispatch at the restaurant. (Click here for more.)

16 Handles partners with Duff Goldman on new flavor

16 Handles has partnered with Food Network personality Duff Goldman to create a limited edition frozen yogurt flavor, Duff’s Chocolate Chip Cake. For a limited time, the frozen yogurt chain also is bringing back its “17th handle,” allowing visitors to twist together Duff’s Chocolate Chip Cake Fro-Yo with a customer favorite called Oh My, Pumpkin Pie. (Click here for more.)

TCBY unveils 3 new flavors for Fall
TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt), the world’s first and largest frozen yogurt brand, has introduced three autumn-inspired flavors including pumpkin, graham cracker and apple pie for the season at locations nationwide. (Click here for more.)


Burger King heats up spicy nuggets battle with Wendy’s

Burger King now is offering spicy chicken nuggets as a move to fill a perceived customer void left by competing chain Wendy’s after it scaled back the product. The brand will offer the nuggets as a limited time offer in 10-piece packs for $1.49 and original chicken nuggets will remain a permanent menu item. Wendy’s has yet to weigh in on the promotion, but sent fans an online post in March explaining their decision to discontinue spicy nuggets in most markets. (Click here for more,)


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Raging fires devastating wine country in California

A typical disaster in California wine country. (AP Photo)
From The New York Times

Fatal wildfires scorching eight Northern California counties this week have dealt a devastating blow to the important wine and tourism industries, destroying more than 1,500 buildings, including historic wineries.

Although the seasonal harvest is nearly complete, the conflagration threatens to disrupt tens of thousands of jobs and destroy valuable stores of grapes waiting in bins, barrels and bottles to be fermented or aged. The extent of the damage will be unclear for days because the fires are blocking many winery owners from reaching their facilities.

Tourism in the region — a multibillion-dollar economic machine that includes high-end hotels, wine-tasting tours and upscale cuisine — is suffering as the flames claimed many establishments and forced many others to shutter for the rest of the week.

“It has been a devastating fire,” the Sonoma County Winegrowers group said in a Facebook post. “Reports of fire damage to wineries, businesses and homes continues to grow.”
The blazes — which have left at least 11 people dead — continued to rage on Tuesday. Seventeen separate fires, across 94,000 acres, have forced more than 20,000 people to evacuate.
Go here for the full story.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

City Market adds top chef in advance of opening 2nd venue


Tighe's Bistro Americain in progress in rural Rensselaer Co.

The in-development restaurant when it was a country inn. (photos provided)

Salvaged doors that will be part of the decor.
When Kevin Tighe announced his intent last fall to develop Tighe's Bistro Americain, he said it would be on Albany's Hamilton Street. But, several months later he he ran into a snag in reaching agreement with the owners of that building and said he would be looking elsewhere.

Then alternative Tighe found is anything but a city downtown  spot. Instead, it is about 15 miles east of the city, in rural Rensselaer County. The venue, on Glass Lake Road just off Route 43 in Averill Park, is a historic one that Tighe has been renovating with an eye toward maintaining its classic look.

It is the former 1850s-era Weeler Hotel, whch also at one time operated under the name Glass Lake Hotel, that has been closed for more than a decade. Tighe, who gained a reputation as a barman working at a variety of Albany venues such as McGuire's, Justin's, and the New World Bistro Bar, for example, earlier said his new restaurant -- which he refers to as TBA -- will serve regional French country food.

No opening date has yet been announced. "It will take a while to renovate and I'm reluctant to even guess on a completion date," Tighe says. "The more I look, the more I find to do, but we'll keep you posted on the progress."

Tighe has been steadily teasing us with Facebook postings showing how deeply the renovation bug has bitten him. Here's what he wrote about the doors shown above:

"At my age I shouldn't get so stoked about a couple of old doors ... but I am. Picked these babies up at the Historic Albany Foundation's warehouse yesterday. It's not what they are, it's what they will be that has me so jazzed. The main part of the future TBA building was built in 1850, I just couldn't put a home center composite door on the building (that would disrespect the history). It will take a lot of elbow grease and some fresh paint but it will be all worth it."

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Monday, October 9, 2017

Chain Links

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

Dunkin' Donuts to test smaller doughnut menu

• Wendy's adds new chicken tenders, sauce at all locations

Arby’s adds chicken pepperoni parm for limited time

•  CoreLife Eatery uses data to enhance customer experience

•  McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce promotion backfires 

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

• Paul Park has graduated from a stall in the Troy Kitchen incubator space to a place of his own. His Bespoki Bowl restaurant now is doing a standalone business at 122 4th Street, former home of The Flying Chicken,  in downtown Troy. His stock in trade is the raw-fish dish known as poké, a Hawaiian-influenced item. Although poké can be found on some menus in the Capital Region, Bespoki Bowl is the only one I know of that specializes in it. Park's new menu, however, includes a number of other types of dishes. Hours: is 11:30 a.m. to 9: 30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Phone: 518-244-5347.

• The Hudson River Coffee House, which was shut down last month by state authorities because of nonpayment of taxes, has reopened. Although at the time of the forced closing owner Anton Pasquill was quoted as saying he planned to move the business to another location, it has reopened at its original venue, 227 Quali Street, Albany.

• A new Panera Bread location I first reported on back in February is nearing completion for a  mid-month opening near Hudson Valley Community College. It will be the first tenant in the new 16 North muilti-use building being built on the former site of the Country Grove Inn, which was demolished last December to allow construction of the 36,000-square-foot project.The developer is Dave Mulinio, who also was behind the nearby North Greenbush Commons Plaza at 50 North Greenbush Road (Route 4).

CLOSING

Mac’s Drive-In, located at 648 Third Avenue in Watervliet, will close for the season after service today. The occasion will be marked with a slew of giveaways, specials, and discounts, all listed on the business's Facebook page. This was the eighth season for Mac's.


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wine Enthusiast reveals 45 NY wines rated 90 points or higher

Wine Enthusiast magazine has just released a "Buying Guide: New York State Wine" that rates  45 different wines from 25 New York wineries rated at 90 points or above.

The magazine's editors note that its November issue's  "batch of reviews show wines from New York offer a dizzying array of diversity.

"New York wine is often priced under $20 at entry level. These wines represent a breed of painstakingly made, small production pours that offer remarkable value."

Also, Wine Enthusiast's "Top 100 Best Buys" include Wagner Vineyards' 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay (#60), Dr. Frank Wine Cellars' 2015 Dry Riesling (#74), and Glenora Wine Cellars' 2015 Riesling (#99).

Click here for the complete buying guide.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

NY gewürztraminer judged best in Sommelier Challenge

New York State entries earned some top-level awards in the Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition recently held in San Diego.
Penguin Bay Winery won "Best Gewürztraminer" and took home a Platinum medal  (94 of 100 possible points) for its 2016 Gewürztraminer. 
Swedish Hill Winery took a Gold medal (92 Points) for its Riesling.
Goose Watch Winery Viognier also took a Gold medal (90 Points) for its Viognier. 
Penguin Bay is located in Hector, Schuyler County; Swedish Hill in Romulus, Seneca County, with a tasting room in Saratoga Springs; and its sibling Goose Watch is in Romulus.

Complete results from the competition are available online.


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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 




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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 locating in the area:

The Cheesecake Factory expands weekend brunch
 
How Dunkin’ Brands is getting its ‘doughnut mojo’ back

Panera's next big digital move: Voice-activated ordering

•  Panda Express hosting first career day on October 18

•  Study: Starbucks is the king of customer loyalty

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Update: Sonic reacts to its ongoing credit breach

UPDATE (10/6/17): Sonic Drive-In has issued an update on what it has done, besides reporting the situation to law enforcement agencies, in response to discovering an ongoing security breach involving credit and debit cards: "We ... immediately began our own investigation with the help of experienced third-party forensics firms. Notice of this incident was briefly delayed accommodating law enforcement’s investigation. We regret that this incident occurred, and apologize for any inconvenience or concern it may cause. As a precautionary measure, we are offering customers who used their cards at our locations this year to receive 24 months of free fraud detection and identity theft protection through Experian’s IdentityWorks program. To take advantage of these free services, you can enroll by visiting the Experian IdentityWorks website. You have until December 31, 2017, to register and enroll. If you have questions or need an alternative to enrolling online, please call 877-534-7032."

(Originally published 9/28/17 with the headline: 'Security breach at Sonic could affect millions of customers')

From QSR Magazine
Millions of credit and debit cards could be at risk thanks to an alleged security breach at Sonic Drive-In, according to KrebsOnSecurity. The outlet is reporting that an ongoing breach “may have led to a fire sale on millions of stolen credit and debit card accounts that are now being peddled in shadowy underground cybercrime stores.”

Sonic has about 3,600 locations in 45 states [including Troy and Latham in the Capital Region], with 90% or so representing franchised stores. KrebsOnSecurity was alerted by multiple financial institutions after they noticed a pattern of fraudulent transactions on cards previously used at Sonic. The issue turned out to be a massive one.

The company said it directed several of the banking sources to a batch of about five million credit and debit card accounts that were put up for sale on September 18 in a “credit card theft bazaar” called Joker’s Stash. Two sources who then agreed to purchase a handful of cards from the batch discovered they had all recently been used at Sonic restaurants. It is unclear, however, whether Sonic is the only company involved. The report said it’s likely, although unconfirmed, that the Sonic cards are mixed in with others stolen by the same cyber attackers.
Go here for the rest of the story.

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Multi-phase EG project unveiled for ex-Weathervane spot

Marker indicates proposed East Greenbush development. (Google map)
It has been 15 months since the dilapidated former Weathervane Restaurant in East Greenbush was demolished. In the interim, rumors of another restaurant being built there have surfaced from time to time, but the first formal announcement of the fate of the plot does not necessarily bear that out.

A project is now before the town government calling for a phased development of the area on Columbia Turnpike (Routes 9 and 20) that would include a three-story building with first-floor commercial space,. Of course, there always is the possibility a restaurant of some sort could wind up there.

A second building containing 30 apartments also would be part of the initial construction. Other phases call for three buildings of 50 units each and a neighborhood complex.

The development, called the the Town Center Planned Development District. is being proposed by an entity known as 580 Columbia Turnpike LLC. A public information meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the East Greenbush Community Library, 10 Community Way.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

• Although it has been in "soft opening" mode for about six weeks, the Arsenal City Tavern, located at 795 Third Avenue opposite the Watervliet Arsenal, will be holding a grand opening block party today. Activities will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for people of all ages. The venue's owners are Dave Weinberg and Dan Farrell.

• The Fort Orange Brewing Company will hold a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, October 25, to mark its grand opening.The facility is located at 450 North Perarl Street in Albany's Warehouse District. Phone: (518) 992-3103.

CLOSING

• The restaurant Fx3 Fit Food Fast has shut down its Queensbury location, but announced plans to work on a new venue in Clifton Park. The owner of the former Friendly's building at 682 Glen Street that had been home to Fx3 sold the building to the O'Reilly Auto Parts chain that is building a number of stores in the Capital Region. Fx3 was opened three years ago by Kevin Shufelt and Joe McCrudden.

EXPANDING

•  Citizen Cider will begin work in two weeks on an expansion to its business that will bring a portion of  its hard-cider production to a second site in Burlington, VT, according to Seven Days. Cofounder Justin Heilenbach told the publication the cidery, which has a production facility and taproom on Pine Street, will move its apple-pressing operation from Middlebury to 180 Flynn Avenue in Burlington. Currently,  apples are pressed in Middlebury and transported to Burlington in a tanker truck filled with apple cider.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Friday, October 6, 2017

Healthy-food frestaurant group expanding to Capital Region

A small Syracuse-based restaurant chain is planning on getting bigger, sooner than later.

CoreLife Eatery, a fast casual concept focusing on salads, grain bowls, meats, and bone broth all free of GMO, trans-fats, and artificial ingredients (see menu here), will open three locations in the Capital Region next year, with three more in the planning stages within the next two years.

One location will be in the Latham Farms shopping complex in Latham as part of its 9,000-square-foot expansion. Another is being built in Clifton Park on property in front of the Hannaford supermarket. The Blaze pizza chain will occupy part of the same building. And,  a third will be built in Albany.

Further down the line, the company is eying properties in North Greenbush, Wilton, and Colonie. CoreLife presently has 20 restaurants spread over eight states, but its expansion plan calls for a total of 300 or so venues within the next five years.

The brand began in Syracuse in May 2015. In explaining its operation, it says, "We are all people who have been in the food & restaurant business for a lot of years. We’re as passionate as ever. But, as we all watched things move toward convenience and away from the whole foods that our bodies really need, we saw a 'real' opportunity. What if there were a place that sought out the best foods available and then prepared those foods right there instead of having a truck deliver pre-prepared foods full of all kinds of who-knows what? What if a great bowl of greens & grains could be topped with dressings that were whole carrots and fresh herbs just minutes before? What if we simmered bone broth and vegetable broth every night in each eatery? What if grass-fed steak, all-natural chicken and fresh tofu were being grilled right there too, where the customer could see it?

"Why should it be so hard for someone to find food that tastes really great, without feeling like they have to give up their health to get it? In fact -- what if it actually powered their lives? Those kinds of questions all get answered here. We think that kind of a place is more than a restaurant… that kind of a place is CoreLife!"

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

CLOSING

The Beer Diviner will close its 461 Broadway taproom in Troy at the end of this month after barely a year in operation. Owner Jonathan Post says he didn't make sufficient money on the venture, an offshoot of his rural Rensselaer County nanobrewery at 243 Bly Hollow Road in Cherry Plain. He apparently is looking for a more lucrative location in Troy. Conversely, Post says his country taproom has seen an uptick in business. It is open noon to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

MORPHING

• While the Glen Sanders Mansion remains open, there are some changes in the offing at the historic facility owned by Mazzone Hospitality. Its Angelo's Tavolo restaurant space is switching from full service to Sunday brunch only (10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) as of Sunday, October 15. The space otherwise will be used for banquet events. The same day, Maquas Lounge, downstairs from Tavolo, will be rebranded as The Lounge at Glen Sanders and debut a new menu and wine list , serving from 4 p.m. Glen Sanders Mansion is located at 1 Glen Avenue, Glenville, just across the Mohawk River from Schenectady County Community College.

DEVELOPING

Frank O’Connor is working on his first proprietorship after building a local following as a barman and manager. He plans to open Loch & Quay (pronounced lock and key) next winter after extensive renovations of the former Franklin's Tower at 418 Broadway, Albany, opposite the sprawling SUNY headquarters building. Although it will serve food, the emphasis will be on the bar program. O'Connor has held staff positions at such spots as The Olde English Pub in Albany and The Shop in Troy.

• A swath of the Catskills along Route 17 and in Upper Kingston will offer several more places to dine if several developers' plans come to fruition. One involves the currently-closed Antrim Lodge in Sullivan County, whose owners hope to turn the 127-year-old facility into an upscale inn and restaurant as a draw for Catskills tourists. Another is an Upper Kingston project that would consist of several restaurants, stores, a pedestrian plaza, 129 apartments, a 38-room hotel, and a 475-space parking garage. A $1.8 million state grant to assist in the Antrim Lodge effort and a $4.2 million state grant to help pay for the Upper Kingston multi-use project are the largest requests in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties on the latest grant wish list submitted to the state by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What were the most-read posts here in September?


For about the umpteenth consecutive month, a posting about food news in Troy was the most-read here on "Notes On Napkins."

A story focusing on Asian food there topped ("Friday's Troyasia Night will be a community block party") narrowly edged two others as the most-read posting in September.

The remainder of the top 10 most-read posts:

(2.) Openings & Closings & Etc. (9/25 edition)
(3.) Black & Blue names new executive chef in Guilderland
(4.) Ortega expanding Illium to Pinehaven Country Club
(5.) 'Empty Bowls' fundraiser back in Troy for 12th year
(6.) Food pantries event to feature chefs' competition
(7.) The Ginger Man now lives on as merely a memory
(8.) Openings & Closings & Etc. (9/16 edition)
(9.) Panera's latest clean food move: kid-sizing entire menu
(10.)  Beard-awarded chef joining North Adams startup project  

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chain Links

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

Starbucks shuts down its online store

• Arby’s adds chicken pepperoni parm for limited time

'I Want My Baby Back' campaign returns to Chili's

Red Robin to debut hop salt seasoning and 1969 lager

TGI Fridays testing plant-based Beyond Burger

Can Cracker Barrel survive America's retail crisis?

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

I reported several weeks ago that the Malta business Wired Coffee Roasters had opened a second location called Wired Coffee & Bagel in the new Pioneer Bank headquarters on Albany Shaker Road in Colonie opposite the Times Union building. Now, the original location in Elsworth Commons has been closed to allow its relocation to Sitwell Plaza at 2443 Route 9, in behind Cap Com Credit Union). The opening is scheduled for Thursday, October 19.

• The Cove Bowling Lanes in Great Barrington, MA, are becoming headquarters for an unusual combination of businesses. Marty & Jim's Sandwiches and More just relocated from across Stockbridge Road, which allowed owners Jim Kenefick and Marty Brown to expand to a seven-day operation and stay open later thanks to the bowling clientele base. And, Cove owner Thomas Hankey is in the process of finalizing the lease of office and parking space to Timeless Auto Sales, a Lenox classic auto and import dealer that has requested town permission to open a satellite operation there to sell low mileage, late model European cars. The Cove complex, which Hankey put up for sale in June with an asking price of $4.5 million, also includes 26 bowling lanes, a bar and lounge, a snack bar, an arcade, and miniature golf.

CLOSING

The Pony Barn, a bar operating three nights a week at June Farms in West Sand Lake, will close for the season after service this Saturday. Owner Matt Baumgartner, who made his name locally as founder of Bombers Burrito Bar, plans to reopen in late spring 2018 at the 275 Parker Road location. Phone: 518-888-2988.

Nibble Inc., which operated in Troy -- first at 461 Broadway then at 333 Broadway -- for the past three years, has  permanently closed, according to owner Jessie Cramer.


CLOSING ... & REOPENING

• Giancarlo and Nancy Balestra are taking a major change of direction for their Limoncello Ristorante, located at 1 Ballston Avenue in Saratoga Springs. Rather than operating year-round, they will close up shop after service on Sunday, with plans to reopen in mid-April as a seasonal operation. "This was our 12th [Saratoga Race Course] season ... and we have decided that it is time for a much needed, nice long vacation," they said in a announcement. "We look forward to our return next season ... . We plan to introduce news menu items and make some updates inside and out along with a few surprises for our beautiful garden patio."


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook