SCHENECTADY — A highly anticipated addition to the city’s restaurant/bar scene has finally set a date for its debut.
Druthers Brewing Company announced on its Facebook page late Tuesday night that it will open its doors to the public at 11:30 a.m. on Friday in Mohawk Harbor’s Riverhouse complex. This comes almost a year after the brewery originally said it would be open.
It was a tough road, said Druthers CEO Chris Martell. But it has ended in excitement.
“It’s one of those things where, when you get to the end of it, you’re happy as hell,” Martell said. “You appreciate the journey you went on to get there, and it makes you stronger. So, everybody [the staff] is fired up.”
The brewery has been posting progress updates on its social media pages for almost a year. There were plenty of rumors about when it was going to open, but nothing specifically from Druthers.
Martell said that’s because the project was unique for the brewery. It was hard to just rely on past experiences of opening other locations because they were installing a combined full-service restaurant and a manufacturing facility inside an 8,000-square-foot building that had people living above and a parking garage below, Martell said.
“We have tenants above us, so we had to do sound proofing,” Martell said. “It’s not something that was thought of well in advance. So, that cost us two months.”
Then there was time spent waiting for building materials, approvals from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for brewing, and the state Liquor Authority’s go-ahead for serving alcohol. The operation also needed approvals from the city Buildings Department.
Martell had high praise for the city, the county, the Galesi group — the developer of Mohawk Harbor — and everyone else they worked with to get the place open.
“To steal [Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s] phrase, [the city and county] were open for business,” Martell said. “There’s no question.”
On Wednesday, just two days ahead of its opening, the latest location was a site of bustling activity.
Several construction workers could be seen working in and around the bar area. Many of the tables were in place, and businesses like the Schuylerville-based King Brothers Dairy and Gloversville-based Capital City Coffee Roasters had trucks on site.
There were also a few employees getting things prepped in the kitchen.
Martell said the staff should be ready to go when the doors open on Friday. The payroll for the Schenectady location was filled out eight to 10 weeks ago. But Martell said he didn’t want them to just be sitting at home and possibly pursuing other opportunities, so he had them working at the Albany and Saratoga Druthers locations.
This allowed those staff members to get used to the company’s computer systems and operations procedures.
“The people who stuck with us and who we got to the finish line with, they’re excited to get going and have their own spot,” Martell said.
Each Druthers location will feature different beer and food offerings, though there may be some similarities.
“There’s no cloning of menus,” Martell said.
There has been some fervor around the opening. It’s something David Buicko, CEO of Galesi Group, said he noticed. He said it might be one of the most anticipated openings since Rivers Casino & Resort’s debut.
Buicko also said the timing couldn’t have been better, since the first show of the Harbor Jam concert series will take place on Saturday, the day after Druthers opens.
“They’re going to get slammed,” Buicko said with a laugh.
Buicko said Druthers has found success in both Albany and Saratoga, and he doesn’t think Schenectady will be different.
“I think they’re going to exceed everyone’s expectations in Schenectady,” Buicko said. “I think it’s going to be a really great asset for the community. All of our tenants are excited.”
Martell said he’s aware of how excited area residents are, as well.
While Druthers was embraced in both Saratoga and Albany, Martell said he hasn’t seen a response quite like the one they have had in Schenectady, since the new location was announced.
“It seems like there is a lot of excitement,” he said. “It’s been a really long journey, but I think the wait will be worth it. We’re excited to see people enjoy it.”