Though some of them close for the winter, city restaurateurs seem to still have a taste for growth this spring.
Plans are under way to open a new Don Shula restaurant, reopen Limoncello and expand storage and brewery space at the growing Olde Saratoga Brewing Co.
Shula, the former Miami Dolphins football coach, plans to open a 347 Grille next to the Courtyard by Mariott on Excelsior Avenue in November or December.
The Hall of Fame NFL coach’s company has planned for several months to open the restaurant in Saratoga Springs. Construction is now under way at the hotel.
Spa Hotels II will own and operate the restaurant.
The 347 is named for the number of Shula’s career victories and will feature the so-called “Shula Cut” steaks, seafood, chicken and salad dishes. Signature martinis and fine wines will be served at the bar.
The 140-seat restaurant will also include a private dining room.
Across town, Limoncello is expected to reopen in June down the street from its former Broadway location. The Italian eatery was at 358 Broadway from August 2006 until it closed quickly in September 2007 following a disagreement with the landlord.
Owners Giancarlo and Nancy Balestra expect to reopen in the former home of Haweli Indian restaurant at 1 Ballston Ave.
“A lot of people were trying to help us find a new location. This one came up and I think it’s perfect,” Nancy Balestra said.
They want to expand the building on the wedge-shaped piece of property at the junction of South Broadway, Route 50 and Circular Street to make room for more kitchen and seating area.
They are seeking variances from the city Zoning Board of Appeals to build an addition on the north and east sides of the building close to the property lines
The Balestras also plan to put in an outdoor dining area similar to the patio they had at the former location, and an Italian garden.
Any gift certificates from the old location will be honored at the new restaurant, Nancy Balestra said.
She said rumors circulating after the restaurant closed that the couple didn’t pay their rent aren’t true.
“It was something very difficult for us, because it was a very traumatic experience,” Balestra said of the unexpected closing. “We’ve preferred now to put it behind us and to concentrate on the future.”
Many people have expressed their support, Balestra said. “We got hundreds of e-mails from customers asking when we would be reopening and where.”
Some of the staffers from the first venture will return for the second opening, including manager Antonio Galati.
The couple developed some new dishes during the break, which they spent in Florida. “We were over in Italy for a while, as well.”
Despite the worrisome news this winter about downtown restaurants shutting down temporarily because of lack of business — Brindisi’s, Sperry’s and Bruno’s among them — the Balestras still see something worth doing in the Spa City.
The couple also has plans for two different concept restaurants in Saratoga Springs, but declined to discuss specifics Tuesday.
“This was a little bump in the road. Our plans are going forward now; we just have to get this one back open,” Nancy Balestra said.
Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Joe Dalton said the plethora of eateries has driven down the profit margin in the city, making it more economical to close during the winter months when a snowstorm is likely to knock out business.
“If your margin of profit shrinks for an annual basis, you either have to increase your bottom-line sales or you have to modify your cost,” Dalton said. He noted that the restaurants that closed for the winter this year haven’t closed for good.
Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. plans to expand its brewery and storage space with two additions to the Excelsior Avenue property.
It has no plans to increase the space at its tasting room, which serves beer but not food.
The company has grown in the past three years since it added an 8,000-square-foot warehouse expansion, said general manager Robert Craven.
“We need more space right now for raw materials, storage and product storage,” Craven said. Two additions — one in the front and one in the back — totaling 5,000 square feet are planned.
The brewery currently uses space in Gloversville for storage, but will be able to move that storage to Saratoga Springs if the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals gives the company variances to build the additions.
The 10-year-old company will be getting automated packing equipment that will make six-pack carriers and boxes. That will take up space now used for storage, Craven said.
Craven noted that the machine may reduce the company’s need for one employee, but added the brewery has added new employees over the last year.
There are 22 employees working at the facility, which brews about 30 different kinds of beer, including Olde Saratoga beers, Kingfisher brews and Mendocino beers.
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Categories: Schenectady County