Free food and perfect spring weather combined Friday evening to bring a steady stream of people downtown for the second Schenectady Merchant Mash Up.
The first Mash Up — in which local restaurants serve samples of their favorite dishes inside retail stores — was a huge success last August, with many running out of food before the four-hour event was over.
This time, Robin and Kevin Brown of Cafe Nola were prepared.
“He’s on call, he’s cooking,” Robin Brown said about her husband, Chef Kevin Brown.
Cafe Nola, located at 617 Union St., was offering samples of crawfish jambalaya at the Open Door Bookstore at 128 Jay St.
“It brings people in, it’s good for all of us,” said Jackie DeTeso, assistant manager of the bookstore. She said the Mash Up is good for the restaurants because people can sample their foods and be enticed to patronize the eatery.
Patricia Greenwood, owner of Patricia’s Room at 162 Jay St., said the promotion increased sales at her vintage furniture, jewelry and American artwork shop.
“We’ve had quite a number of sales, especially at the jewelry counter,” she said.
The bluegrass group Running the River was playing some foot-moving music on Jay Street as people enjoyed the warm, sunny weather and ate their food samples outside.
Cornell’s Restaurant was providing samples of chicken cacciatore, calamari marinara, Utica greens and ratatouille at Patricia’s Room, and the business was filled with people sampling the tasty dishes.
Barbara Patalino, banquet manager at Cornell’s, said she came well-stocked with delicious foods. She said Cornell’s also brought ample supplies to the initial Mash Up and was able to keep serving all that evening, as well.
Jim Salengo, executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation, said Friday’s event was another success. He said a steady crowd could be seen walking from one Mash Up site to another between 4 and 8 p.m.
Salengo said there was a surge of people around 7 to 7:30 p.m. He attributed this to people coming downtown for events at Proctors on State Street and having a free dinner before the show.
A total of 11 restaurants joined forces with 11 retail stores on State Street, Liberty Street, and Jay Street for the Mash Up. Salengo said he didn’t have numbers yet because he has to talk to the businesses involved to get their counts. More than 2,000 visitors attended last summer’s Mash Up.
The DSIC is planning another Mash Up for the third Friday of August.
Lillian Stern and Dorothy Meyer, both of Schenectady, said they really enjoyed the food samples at the New York Folklore Society headquarters at 129 Jay St. Tara Kitchen, which specializes in Moroccan food, was serving samples of roasted eggplant and garlic dip and grilled round chicken kebab with pomegranate seeds.
“This is really lovely,” Stern said. Meyer said she has eaten at Muntasim Shoaib’s Tara Kitchen and said the food is excellent.
Over at the Anthology Studio, a wedding and event floral design shop at 469 State St., people were sampling brownies and gourmet coffee provided by Apostrophe Cafe, the eatery located near Proctors box office.
“We like [the Mash Up]. It’s a nice way to get connected with the community,” said Kara Brunk, a design assistant at Anthology Studio.
Bill Rezey of From Here to Antiquity, at 439 State St., said he was very pleased with the traffic generated by the Mash Up. He said his business includes five dealers who offer a variety of primitive and Americana items, as well as gold and platinum.
He said a $400 emerald ring was sold, along with lots of vintage linens, during Friday’s event.
“We had a good day, and it’s only half over,” Rezey said around 6 p.m., as the Mash Up continued.
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