SCHENECTADY — Pinhead Susan’s holds a special place in Hamayun Faizy’s memories.
It now also will be a big part of his future — he purchased the Broadway restaurant in late February.
“Pinhead’s was my very first sit-down restaurant,” said the Schenectady native.
Faizy was the first child born in America to newly arrived Afghan immigrants, and the family had little money for eating out. For much of his childhood, the only restaurants he saw were fast-food takeout places.
It wasn’t until his teens that he ate at a more formal or expensive place.
Faizy also likes the fact that Pinhead Susan’s was one of the first new businesses in what was still a rundown and underused downtown business district. Many other shiny new restaurants and other businesses have since opened there, but in 2000, conversion of the timeworn circa-1800s building into an Irish pub was a pioneering move.
Co-founder Dennis McDonald told The Daily Gazette in August that he’d had a great run but was ready to retire. After four decades in the restaurant business, much of it with a second job, he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren.
He said his family had made the leap and opened Pinhead very early in the downtown revitalization effort in the hope that the turnaround would be successful, and was gratified that it has been.
The restaurant took its name from a famous scrawl on a downtown wall: “Susan is a Pinhead,” a woman’s friendly jab at her sister.
The restaurant retains that name under new ownership, and retains its atmosphere.
“It’s still going to be an Irish pub,” said Faizy, who goes by “Joey.”
The formal corporation name is Pinhead Shannon’s, he added, after his wife, Shannon, who is fully of Irish descent.
Faizy said he might shorten the name to Pinhead’s at some point, but hasn’t decided. He’s considering a variety of alterations to the second floor, including a terrace with fireplaces, and an event space/cigar lounge, so that patrons needn’t roam from one establishment to another for an evening out.
The need to run Pinhead’s and his other business while planning and financing those changes but still keeping menu prices affordable means the changes will not happen immediately.
“We’re still juggling everything,” he said.
But Faizy is excited about the possibilities at his first restaurant.
“The location couldn’t be any better, between the casino and downtown,” he added.
Faizy, 34, lives in Niskayuna with his wife and four children. He is an Army Reserve veteran who holds an associate degree from SUNY-Schenectady County Community College. After several years in banking, he is now owner of Plaza 7 Wine & Liquor in Latham and a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway.