SCHENECTADY — Southern-inspired comfort food will replace gourmet mini-hamburgers at the State Street storefront formerly home to Slidin’ Dirty.
Devin and Kaytrin Ziemann on Tuesday signed a lease for 512 State St. They expect to open the doors on a new restaurant called The Nest early next year, after the holiday rush is over at their two Albany restaurants and after their interior designer has a chance to rework the space into a warmer, cozier space than the semi-industrial vibe that Slidin’ Dirty created.
“I think we’ll have a lot to offer,” Kaytrin said of joining the Schenectady restaurant scene. “I think State Street’s a great place to be.”
The couple opened their first restaurant, Crave, in Albany in 2015. They followed up in 2017 with The Cuckoo’s Nest, almost directly across Western Avenue from Crave.
While Crave is a fast-casual gourmet burger and yogurt joint, Cuckoo’s Nest is a full-service restaurant featuring Southern comfort food. The Nest, as the name implies, will be similar to Cuckoo’s Nest.
The menus will be siblings but not twins, said Kaytrin. The most popular item at Cuckoo’s Nest, fried chicken, will be featured at The Nest, as well as some other favorites. But Devin is working up new variations, too.
Kaytrin is a Schenectady native and Devin grew up in Altamont. The couple met in Schenectady in 2014, when Devin was already well known in the Schenectady restaurant community, having attended SUNY Schenectady’s culinary school and having worked in the kitchen at local restaurants, including Aperitivo and Johnny’s. Kaytrin’s experience and training were mainly in front-of-house operations.
Their focus on Southern food grew from a cross-country culinary tour the couple took before becoming parents to Calvin, now 18 months old.
“Everywhere we went, our favorite place to eat was Southern comfort food,” Kaytrin recalled.
Thus the interior makeover at the space on State Street: They want The Nest to look comfortable — more like grandma’s house than the brick and metal space there now.
“We have a great interior designer working with us,” Kaytrin said.
Devin expects to spend almost all of his working hours at The Nest in its first year of operation, while Kaytrin plans to divide her time about equally among the three restaurants. They can do this because their two existing restaurants are running smoothly and because they have complete confidence in their staff.
Cuckoo’s Nest took over the space occupied for decades by The Ginger Man, and Kaytrin recalls thinking at the time it would be impossible to open a second restaurant if it weren’t right across the street from Crave.
She doesn’t have the same misgivings this time. The family’s home is in Guilderland, midway between downtown Albany and downtown Schenectady, about a 20-minute drive to either. Plus, there’s that workforce.
“We are so grateful for our employees," Kaytrin said. "There is no way we could do any of this without them."
Many of them have been with the two restaurants since their opening day, she added. “We rely on them like crazy.”