Saratoga County

Reopening timeline murky for Ballston Lake’s Carney’s Tavern

Carney's Tavern at 17 Main St. in Ballston Lake is pictured.

Carney's Tavern at 17 Main St. in Ballston Lake is pictured.

It could take weeks or longer for the restaurant and tavern at the historic Carney’s Tavern building in Ballston Lake to reopen, even though the building owner, Rosemary Carney, insists she will reopen soon.

Carney, who on Monday said she planned to open the tavern this week, on Tuesday acknowledged the historic establishment won’t reopen this week, but she said she was committed to reopening it as soon as possible. 

Carney is not licensed to serve liquor at the Carney’s Tavern location, 17 Main St. in Ballston Lake, state Liquor Authority spokesperson Bill Crowley confirmed Tuesday.

“There is nothing pending at that location, but she could obviously put in an application,” Crowley said. He said after someone applies for a permanent license, which is currently taking around 20 weeks to process, they can seek a temporary license, which he said takes about 30 days to process and is good for 90 days. 

Matt Finnigan, who operated the tavern for the past eight years and holds the current liquor license approved for the location, on Monday announced with his wife, Stephanie, that they would no longer be operating the historic tavern. Finnigan on Tuesday said he planned to host one remaining private party at the tavern early next month and that he planned to vacate the premises by Aug. 15, noting that he has paid rent on the building through August. Finnigan said he had looked into what kinds of improvements would be necessary at the tavern building to enable where he wanted to take the restaurant but determined the costs were not worth it and prompted a decision to move.

“It’s much too much of an expensive and large project for us to even consider,” Finnigan said. “It was an overall nice spot to be, unfortunately, it’s just the condition of the building, it’s just expired. Every time you repair one thing, something else is wrong.”

Finnigan said he owns much of the furniture and equipment in the restaurant, adding that he hoped to leave the premises without any conflict. He said he plans to pursue another restaurant venture in Saratoga County. 

“We are just looking for an amicable separation,” Finnigan said. “We have been amicable for eight years, we’ve basically carried her name on for eight years and it’s all been very positive, and I would like to keep it that way.”

Carney, who has owned the building since she and her husband took it over and ran a restaurant out of it, said she planned to get the tavern reopened, working with her family and former employees.

“It’s not going to be open for a week,” she said, later adding it could be “weeks” before the tavern reopened. “We will reopen, I guarantee we will reopen, but it’s not going to be this week.” 

Carney said she has managed the restaurant in the past and can do so again.

“We’ve been there over 30 years and we have a good reputation,” she said. 

The building, built sometime in the 1840s, has a long history and has been the home of numerous taverns, inns and restaurants over the decades. Local musicians have played at the bar, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake graduates have used the venue as the site of reunions. The building’s history may have even included a stop from Theodore Roosevelt as he was on his way to Washington to become president. 

E.J., a local musician who played at Carney’s under both Carney’s and Finnigan’s management, on Tuesday said he hoped the locally beloved spot would open a new chapter in the months to come.

“I hope Carney finds a new life,” he said. “Rose ran it for a long time before Matt and Stephanie got involved. It’s been a local staple for 30-plus years.”

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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