Schenectady restaurateur Angelo Mazzone’s plate has been piling up with new businesses. Count them: five in the last three years, including last week’s opening of the Prime at Saratoga National steakhouse in Saratoga Springs.
Now, with a total of nine businesses, Mazzone and the Union Graduate College recently tasked five business students with developing a plan to pull the restaurant at the Glen Sanders Mansion out from the bottom of the pile.
“After 20 years, Glen Sanders Mansion has become a household name, but a lot of people still don’t know we have a restaurant,” said Mazzone, president of the Mazzone Management Group.
The Mazzone Group is now weighing recommendations the Union MBA students made in a 100-plus page report. The report will likely result in a re-branding campaign for the fine-dining restaurant in Scotia.
Mazzone will also likely follow through on the Union group’s recommendations to incorporate the Internet in more of the mansion’s marketing efforts, which will target young professionals and college students. Although the Mazzone Group has long operated Web sites for its properties, it started taking online reservations only three months ago.
Concerned that the Glen Sanders restaurant is getting overshadowed by his newer additions, such as Angelo’s Aperitivo Bistro in Schenectady and the Ayco Cafe in Latham, Mazzone wants to put it back in the spotlight.
“I didn’t have the time and focus to focus on the restaurant … It was put on the back burner,” said Mazzone.
In 1988, Mazzone bought the 2,000-square-foot Glen Sanders Mansion, which dates back to 1658. It has grown into a 70,000-square foot facility with an inn and banquet hall. The Mazzone Group employs 350, including 150 at the mansion.
At a time when $4-per-gallon gasoline is forcing many Americans to eat out less, consumer spending remains strong at the Scotia restaurant. But rising commodity prices are digging into Glen Sanders’ income, forcing the restaurant to look for ways to expand its customer base, said Matthew Mazzone, Angelo’s son and Mazzone Group’s chief financial officer.
Matthew Mazzone said Aperitivo, near Proctors on State Street, has been very popular among the young professional crowd and college students. So much so that this fall he will start accepting Union meal card payments at the chic metropolitan bistro that specializes in light fare and cocktails.
The Union MBA graduate student report has Matthew Mazzone thinking about also accepting the college meal cards at Glen Sanders. He had thought The Scotia restaurant might fall outside students’ price range. But some might be able to swing a few meals there with the college debit cards, assuming that parents will pick up the tab.
“I realized [the restaurant was in Glen Sanders]. It just wasn’t in my price range,” Molly Flanagan said of her undergraduate years at Union College. The Simsbury, Conn. resident was one of the students enrolled in the graduate school’s Capstone business plan development program.
Capstone is a final requirement for Union’s MBA program. Through a partnership with the Center for Economic Growth in Albany, Union identifies Capital Region businesses interested in working with the MBA students at no charge. During the spring semester, seven Capstone groups consisting of five students each drafted business plans during a 10-week period.
Other Capstone students involved in the Mazzone project included Bill Morrow of Corning, Luke Kelly of Glens Falls, Rachael Ward of Schenectady and Aaron Harbeck of Rensselaer.
Before buying Glen Sanders, Mazzone worked as a director of food services at Union College. He owned another downtown Schenectady restaurant, which burned down in 1989. The Glen Sanders’ restaurant and catering service opened that year, followed by the inn in 1995.
Some operational suggestions the students made for Glen Sanders included seeking organic and local food producers, gear the inn into a bed and breakfast and relocate administrative offices to free up space. They also recommended bundling Glen Sanders’ dining and hospitality services into event packages in partnership with other area destinations, such as Proctors.