Restaurateur, builder buy eatery on Ballston Lake

A builder and the owner of Village Pizzeria & Ristorante in the town of Galway have teamed up to buy

A builder and the owner of Village Pizzeria & Ristorante in the town of Galway have teamed up to buy the former Good Times Restaurant on Ballston Lake and plan to spend the summer renovating it for a September opening.

Sandra Foster, co-owner of Village Pizzeria, and her partner in the new venture, builder Kurtus Zarnofsky, bought the building two weeks ago from former owner Desiree Kelleigh.

The new owners plan to add more windows, more decks and update the interior decor for a “lakeside casual” feel, Foster said.

“It needs a whole new ambiance,” she said. The new restaurant will be called Villago, which Foster said is similar enough in name to her current restaurant that there’s a branding connection.

The location fits its Italian meaning, too: Villago means “villa on the lake,” Foster said.

“Customers have asked for years for another location, asking for Saratoga, Saratoga,” she said, adding that the Village Pizzeria clientele comes from around Saratoga County, Schenectady, Gloversville and Amsterdam. “But I think that the lake is even better.”

She sees potential in the growing development of that part of Saratoga County.

“There’s a captive audience there with all the new housing.”

In an effort to welcome the neighborhood, she and Zarnofsky have already opened the boat launch across Lake Road from the restaurant, the only public boat launch on Ballston Lake.

“Down the road I see kayak rentals, standing paddleboards,” Foster said of possible future plans for the site.

The new restaurant can fit between 80 and 100 people upstairs and 100 people downstairs. The upstairs was previously used as a banquet room; Foster plans to open the building up for seating anywhere, though the second floor also can be available for special events.

Villago’s menu will include salads, burgers, paninis, pasta, and the pizza for which Village Pizzeria is famous. Foster plans to include the pizzeria’s appetizers on Villago’s menu and incorporate traditional seasonal foods such as fiddleheads, wild ramps and squash blossoms.

“I like to do things that people don’t take the time for anymore,” Foster said.

Foster plans to buy as much local fresh produce as possible for Villago through a program called Greener Fields Together that vendor Antonucci’s Produce and Seafood of Gloversville uses. Through the program, food vendors find farms that use sustainable practices, doing the legwork that restaurateurs otherwise would have to do.

The new restaurant will be distinct from the pizzeria with its simpler fare — to get one of the pizzeria’s many veal and fish entrees and 475 wines, diners will still have to go to Galway.

Villago will have a full liquor license, unlike the beer and wine license that Village Pizzeria has.

Foster plans to open Villago six days a week for lunch and supper, and new staff is already being trained.

Foster and her husband, Joe Guerrera, opened Village Pizzeria 25 years ago on Route 29 in the hamlet of East Galway when they moved here from Connecticut. Their daughter, Jessica Mancinone, is now the manager.

Desiree Kelleigh, the longtime owner of Good Times Restaurant, closed it in April after 25 years. She owned it with her husband, Hugh, who has been in poor health for more than 10 years.

High medical bills contributed to financial problems at the restaurant, including unpaid property taxes.

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