A downstate Mexican restaurant is planning to open a new location in downtown Schenectady
Lori Selden, owner of Mexican Radio, which began in New York City, said the site is expected to open in early 2011. She wasn’t able to say where the restaurant would be, but said it would be downtown.
Selden said her restaurant wouldn’t be too far from another Mexican restaurant, Bombers Burrito Bar, but “we’re complimentary,” she said. “We don’t do the same thing and we’re firm believers in the more the merrier.”
Bombers owner Matt Baumgartner agreed and said he thought a new restaurant would add to the diversity of the area.
“We do sell burritos and tacos, but we are completely unlike Mexican Radio, which serves more authentic Mexican food,” Baumbgartner said. “We’re more of a TexMex casual place.”
Mexican Radio started in 1996 in New York City in a small storefront in the Northern Little Italy neighborhood. The restaurant quickly outgrew its location, which sat about 20 people, and moved around the corner to it’s currently facility on Cleveland Place.
In 2003, Selden and her husband, Mark Young, opened their second Mexican Radio location in Hudson after they moved to the Columbia County town of Stuyvesant.
Mexican Radio is known for its margaritas, but also for its philosophy in using local products. Selden said they try to use local products whenever possible. She created an organization called Columbia County Bounty, which works with farmers and restaurant owners to get local products into local restaurants. “We are very blessed to be in one of the best agricultural regions in the country,” Selden said. Selden said she is a fan of the Schenectady Greenmarket, a year-round farmers’ market at Proctors, which is one of the things that attracted her to the city.
Despite the fact that Selden can’t find local avocados or limes, Mexican Radio works with local farmers who provide the restaurant with chicken, beef and produce.
Selden said she is surprised that restaurants in the Capital Region don’t use more products from local farmers.
Selden said the vibe at Mexican Radio is supposed to be comfortable. Customers should feel like it is OK to hang out for awhile. “We are very into warm colors and comfortable chairs,” she said. “That’s the original idea.”
Mexican Radio is more of a restaurant than a bar, but it does have a large bar and its drinks are popular, Selden said. Selden said they get customers from all over the world who have urged them to put a location closer to their community. Selden said they were “seriously considering” moving to Albany before they were introduced to Schenectady. Selden said the city may be 10 times bigger than Hudson, but it still feels small. Selden said she has been in touch with Mextroplex, the county’s economic development agency, but they aren’t accepting any loans or help from the organization.
“We’ve spent the last year researching and visiting Schenectady and we just like the vibe there,” she said. “It’s got a great industrial chic thing going on. The buildings are beautiful and obviously Proctors is very important. People who love Schenectady have made us fall in love with Schenectady.”