A barbecue restaurant chain with a fiercely loyal following in central New York is scouting the Capital Region for a new location.
Dinosaur Barbecue founder John Stage is looking to expand the chain for the first time since he opened a restaurant in Harlem four years ago. He said he has been looking at various spaces in the Albany area, where he has family, though he could not specify when a local restaurant might open.
“Right now, we’re in negotiations in the Capital Region … but we’re not ready to make an announcement,” Stage said.
Among the places Stage is eyeing for a Dinosaur is the former Fresno’s Southwest Restaurant on the Troy waterfront. The Syracuse-based Galco Management Services abruptly closed that Fresno’s last year.
The Dinosaur chain has been steadily gaining fame nationwide — particularly from its barbecue cuisine and blues club — since Stage opened his first Dinosaur in Syracuse in 1988. A second Dinosaur opened in Rochester a decade later.
Stage acknowledged the state’s poor economic climate poses challenges for the expansion of his chain. But other restaurateurs are not letting the financial crisis spoil their plans. Later this month, the owner of two Hudson Valley steakhouses will open The Standard in the former Bugaboo Creek space at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland.
In Schenectady, a local family of local restaurant operators bought the Van Dyck Restaurant and Brewery in an October bankruptcy court auction. Similarly to Dinosaur, the Van Dyck operated under a barbecue and jazz club format, but it is not clear whether the McDonald family will revive the Stockade restaurant in the same fashion. The McDonalds also own Pinhead Susan’s, The Stockade Inn and the Park Inn.
“When the time is right and things make sense — that’s my timetable,” Stage said, explaining his rationale for when the Capital Region Dinosaur will open.
The New York Times reported last month that Stage in fall of 2009 will relocate his Harlem restaurant because its current location will be demolished as part of a Columbia University expansion project. That Dinosaur will move to a nearby Columbia warehouse, on which he spent about $2 million for renovations.
The Times called the Harlem Dinosaur “a pioneer in a once forsaken stretch of the neighborhood, which has since seen the arrival of a number of restaurants and clubs.”