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Flatbread Social brings people together in Saratoga Springs

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Flatbread Social brings people together in Saratoga Springs

Neapolitan-style fare, with cocktails, craft beers and homemade ice cream
Flatbread Social brings people together in Saratoga Springs
Owners Ryan and Sonja McFadden inside their restaurant Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs, April 18, 2019.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Gazette Photographer

Flatbread Social

Address: 84 Henry St., Saratoga Springs
Owners: Ryan and Sonja McFadden
Chef: Maria Mendez
Description: Neapolitan-style fare, with cocktails, craft beers and homemade ice cream
Origin: We wanted something that was a little bit different from what you see in Saratoga and different than the Taproom. We wanted something that was bright, lively, fun," Ryan McFadden said.
Signature cocktail: Summer Sun (vodka, clementine, rosemary and elderflower liquor)
Contact information: (518) 886-1198, flatbread.social

SARATOGA SPRINGS — With the opening of their second restaurant, what started out as nothing other than a pipe dream has turned into much more for the McFaddens.

Over a decade ago, Ryan and Sonja McFadden—who own both Henry Street Taproom and Flatbread Social in Saratoga Springs—were working in Philadelphia, Sonja as a teacher and Ryan as an attorney. 

"My wife and I were very into craft beer and we really wanted to open a beer bar and that's how we originally got into this whole world," Ryan McFadden said. 

Sonja, who went to Skidmore College, introduced Ryan to the Saratoga Springs area and it wasn't long after that that the couple moved up and established the Henry Street Taproom in 2012. Since then, it’s become a staple of the local bar scene. 

When the space next to the Taproom became available last year, they decided to fulfill another dream; opening a restaurant that focused on Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza and had more of a community-centered aspect to it. Thus, they created Flatbread Social, which opened earlier this year. 

"It has a different vibe than the Taproom. It's kid-friendly, it's more open, more accessible to big parties; just a lot of things that we couldn't really accommodate at Henry Street Taproom," McFadden said. 

ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER  
Interior of Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, April 18, 2019.ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Interior of Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

The succulents hanging from the walls, the graffiti mural behind the bar and shuffleboard tables make Flatbread Social feel more West Coast than East. When this reporter visited on a recent Saturday afternoon, there was a gaggle of families with young kids and couples on dates. Parents taught their kids how to play shuffleboard as they waited for their wood-fired pizzas.

With the doors wide open, one woman stopped in as she was walking her dogs to greet a few friends. There's a sense that running into friends and neighbors is just as integral to the place as the wood-fired pizzas or the mocktails.  

"We wanted something that was a little bit different from what you see in Saratoga and different than the Taproom. We wanted something that was bright, lively, fun," McFadden said. 

They've certainly accomplished that. The menu is packed with easy-to-share meals and appetizers and a collection of cocktails, beer and wine. McFadden mentioned that they’d recently won a local competition for their cocktails, and their mocktails are just as enticing. 

ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER  
The “Pizza Salad with Sunday Salad on top” pizza sold at Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, April 18, 2019.ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
The “Pizza Salad with Sunday Salad on top” pizza sold at Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

"We wanted people that don't drink alcohol to be able to have something fun," McFadden said.  

Especially because they often bring in families, they wanted to make sure their non-alcoholic drinks were just as appealing. While their offerings are going to change throughout the summer, recently they had pineapple agua fresca, along with banana cinnamon and cucumber lime. They also keep kombucha on tap.

Since Flatbread Social is the second restaurant the McFaddens have opened, the couple already knew how they wanted the workflow to go. But there were still a few other challenges. 

"The ovens had a bit of a learning curve on them because they're completely wood-fired, there's no gas assistance. We have to start the fire every day, control the temperature,” McFadden said, “You don't just put the dial to 700 degrees. You've gotta be stoking the fire and paying attention, there's a whole art to it.”

Before opening, they sent chef Maria Mendez to New York City and Philadelphia to learn the ropes from other wood-fired pizza restaurants. So she brought back plenty of techniques to help move things along. 

ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER  
Exterior of Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, April 18, 2019.ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Exterior of Flatbread Social on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

Another challenge for the McFaddens has been getting to know a completely different demographic. 

"Having been open for six years [at Henry Street Taproom], you sort of get used to having a regular flow of customers that you've gotten to know and that are there all the time. You kind of forget that you've got to build that again from scratch. But it's actually been really fun. We're getting a different demographic. We get a lot of young families, we get a lot of couples to split a pizza and get some drinks. So it's been fun to work with a different set of clientele," McFadden said. 

More from Dine 2019: Saratoga County

With that clientele, they've started scheduling events and creating clubs that they believe will resonate with the community. They started a monthly book club and they're putting together a shuffleboard league. 

"It's the idea that people can just come and hang out, it's not a big commitment. It's not going out to a fancy restaurant, you split a pizza amongst friends, get a couple of glasses of wine and hangout with your neighbors," McFadden said. 

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