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Old 03-05-2024, 10:07 AM
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Mac-n-Cheese Bowl moved to October, and other news: https://www.timesunion.com/tablehopp...count=OA%3D%3D
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Old 03-11-2024, 12:12 PM
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New information from the Times-Union's Table Hopping section: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...x.1dq/6bac28d0

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Old 03-13-2024, 11:08 AM
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Checking out the set-to-open Hattie’s in Albany, Saratoga bastion of fried chicken and Louisiana cuisine, now 86 years old, takes over downtown building that was home to Lombardo’s for 99 years: https://www.timesunion.com/tablehopp...4-18877693.php

"To see how the history of Hattie’s Restaurant, a Saratoga Springs mainstay since before World War II, connects to its new, second location in the century-old former Lombardo’s Restaurant downtown that opens Thursday, look up.

First, gaze at the vertical sign on 121 Madison Ave. It mimics the Lombardo’s sign, because it was refashioned by the company that originally built it, but now the sign has the Hattie’s name, year of founding and chicken logo at the top, in a nod to the restaurant’s signature dish.

At the rear of the dining room, past the familiar big oval booth, look up at the large skylight, where a sculpture of hanging musical instruments appears to be exploding from an instrument case. The horns and reeds, all beyond repair, were sourced from Cole’s Woodwind Shop, located on Saratoga’s Phila Street, next door to the original Hattie’s, and the sculpture was made for the new Hattie’s by Tori Rodriguez, a Troy artist referred to the project by Albany Center Gallery.

Finally, look above the door from the barroom to the dining area. On the dark old wood, in a period font, is “Hattie’s 1938.” Next to it, on the wall, are hallmarks of contemporary business: a Wi-Fi router and a wide-angle security camera.

“Hattie’s in Albany gave use the chance to really establish the brand for the longer term, to ensure Hattie’s legacy and ensure it was going to be preserved in a way that honored the history of this special restaurant,” said Jasper Alexander, a chef who with his wife, Beth, owned the Hattie’s brand from 2001 until 2021, when it came under the wing of the Saratoga-based Business for Good foundation.

This week, almost three years after Business for Good bought the historic building that was home to Lombardo’s from 1919 until 2018, Hattie’s opens following a massive renovation that at once preserves the general original feel and yet makes the restaurant space into a Hattie’s of today. A BFG representative declined to provide the budget for the project.

Hattie’s in Albany serves dinner Monday to Saturday and weekend brunch. And yes, there is a parking lot.

The menu is similar to the fare served at the original in Saratoga, including Hattie’s famous fried chicken, but not identical. Several different dishes have been developed for the Albany restaurant by Mark D. Graham, the location’s executive chef and a veteran of many Capital Region restaurants, Graham said. Among the fare specific to Albany is a burger po’ boy — ground beef in an oblong shape to fit the baguette on which the classic New Orleans sandwich is served, with traditional po’ boy toppings — and smoked spare ribs. (The Saratoga Hattie’s doesn’t have a smoker.)

Graham, who is 58, said, “At this point in my life, it’s great to be in a position of continuing to be able to be creative but also feeling like I’m part of such an amazing tradition and history at Hattie’s. … I get to be in both worlds.”

The Alexanders, after the affiliation with BFG, continue in their management roles for Hattie’s and its quick-serve sibling in Wilton, Hattie’s Chicken Shack, with additional, broader-view duties with Business for Good. The foundation stewardship of Hattie’s and several other food businesses allows them to offer employees higher pay and health insurance and put proceeds back into the community. Also among the BFG family are the Bread Basket Bakery and Bread Basket Cake Shop in Saratoga and, in BFG founder Ed Mitzen’s hometown of Voorheesville, Blackbirds Tavern and Blackbirds Bike Cafe, due later this year.

Beth Alexander’s title with BFG is director of customer experience; Jasper Alexander is director of hospitality. In 2010, the couple, who have long run a quick-serve Hattie’s satellite at Saratoga Race Course during the season, brought back the original name of the business with Hattie’s Chicken Shack. In the following years the Alexanders considered franchising the chicken shack and/or opening another location of Hattie’s Restaurant, going so far as to scout sites in Florida, but their children still had years left in school.

“We had a good quality of life: time to raise the kids and run the two restaurants and the catering company. That was plenty,” said Beth Alexander.

With their daughter now graduated from college and son headed there in the fall, and with the backing of BFG, the timing is right for another Hattie’s, she said, although the nearly three-year wait since the foundation purchased the Lombardo’s building has at times been frustrating. Negotiations about historical authenticity went on until last week, the Alexanders said.

“It’s taken so long, but we’re excited to finally be able to show it off to the public,” Beth Alexander said. “When we bought (the original) Hattie’s, we couldn’t really change anything. This time, we kept a lot of the original Lombardo’s feel that I remember from going there years ago, but there are some wonderful surprises.”

Hattie’s retained and restored much of the expansive interior of Lombardo’s, including the large booth, but 11 single- and double-sided booths were donated to Historic Albany Foundation, which gave one booth to a former Lombardo’s server. Another went to a member of the Mancino family, who bought the restaurant in 1991 from the founding family and owned it until the closure at the end of 2018, a year shy of what would have been its centennial. The remaining booths were sold within days, Historic Albany said.

The Business for Good model, with a central mission of using profits to build community and create positive social change, lured Steve Bohrer away from two decades in institutional food service, on the distribution and collegiate-dining levels, to be general manager of the Albany location of Hattie’s.

“Everything (the foundation) is doing for not-for-profits and the community really spoke to me,” said Bohrer, who grew up in Troy and early in his career worked in kitchens and in management at places including the former Coco’s Restaurant & Bar in Guilderland and The Desmond hotel in Colonie.

Said Bohrer, “The wide variety of opportunities that I’ve had … prepared me well for this position.”

Though Graham was announced as the head chef for Albany two years ago, working various positions at Hattie’s in Saratoga in the interim, and the Alexanders have been involved with the brand for 23 years, Bohrer came aboard only two months ago from his most recent job, as executive chef at Bennington College in Bennington, Vt. He said he’s hired almost the entire 30-member Albany staff in the past month, aside from executive sous chef James Buhrmaster, who was recruited by Graham for Hattie’s after the two worked together at the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga.

“The response and excitement from the surrounding community has been fantastic,” Bohrer said. “A lot of individuals in the neighborhood have knocked on the front door and gotten hired almost immediately.” He and Jasper Alexander said a final push for kitchen staff generated five new hires at the end of last week.

For Graham, who has been the head chef or in top positions at about 10 restaurants since moving to the Capital Region from California at the beginning of this century, “This is the most beautiful kitchen I’ve ever worked in,” he said. “It’s a good size, well-spaced, and all of the toys are new.”

Charles N. Lombardo Sr. opened his eponymous Italian restaurant in 1919, expanding it with the addition of the barroom next door when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Hattie’s was founded 86 years ago as Hattie’s Chicken Shack by Louisiana native Hattie Moseley Austin. Originally on Federal Street in Saratoga Springs, it relocated to its present location, 45 Phila St., in the late 1960s. Christel and Colin MacLean owned it from 1993, five years before Austin’s death, until selling to the Alexanders in 2001."

Some photos: https://s.hdnux.com/photos/01/36/50/...o3x2_1440.webp

Information about Hattie Moseley Austin: https://www.saratoga.com/aboutsarato...oseley-austin/
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Old 04-09-2024, 11:49 AM
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Here is some information from the latest Table Hopping newsletter: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...t.8o0/ffc106da
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Old 04-19-2024, 10:30 AM
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Some information from the Food Life blog from the Times-Union: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...2.4wf/c15e3b5f
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Old 04-30-2024, 10:53 AM
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Here is a local food festival that starts this upcoming weekend: https://www.foragednewyork.org/?sid=...%20food%20life

More from Table Hopping: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...2.32k/18e6e8cd

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 04-30-2024 at 12:01 PM..
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Old 05-15-2024, 12:13 PM
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From the most recent Table Hopping newsletter: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...b.8zt/5fe6e966

Also...Star TikTok cook opening own diner in Voorheesville: https://www.timesunion.com/tablehopp...0colonie%20now

"Dylan Longton, a veteran cook a the Windowbox Cafe in Slingerlands whose Tiktok videos under the “Pretty Alright” brand have drawn upward of 2 million views, has signed a letter of intent to take over the former Gracie’s Kitchen location less than 3 miles away, he said Monday.

A projected opening date at 39 Voorheesville Ave. for the Pretty Alright Breakfast Club, as he’s calling it, is June 13. The diner will serve breakfast and lunch, with breakfast available all day, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

The new venture came together fast. On May 4, Longton notified fans that he’d been fired from Windowbox two days before, for reasons he said Monday were still unclear. The post drew 74,500 views and 815 comments. On Monday, he announced he had an agreement (26,100 views and 734 comments in less than a day) to take over the former Gracie’s, which closed in early October after almost five years.

“People have been in my ear about (the location) since even before it was Gracie’s,” said Longton, now 33, who said he started picking up Windowbox shifts as a middle-schooler and became part of the regular staff four years later. Gracie’s sits on a plot, adjacent to railroad tracks, that previously was home to the razed Voorheesville Diner. It is also essentially across the street from two forthcoming food businesses under the umbrella of the Saratoga Springs-based Business for Good foundation, Blackbirds Tavern and Blackbirds Bike Cafe, due to open over the summer.

When Longton suddenly was jobless, “Everyone was like, ‘Now is the time. Go for it!’ ”

While keeping the general Gracie’s layout the same, including a diner counter and tables and popular window for ice cream service, Longton said he is making cosmetic changes to “add the Pretty Alright touch.”

The name comes from Longton’s default reply when, while working the open kitchen at Windowbox, customers asked how he was.

“I’d say, ‘I’m good (or) ‘I’m great.’ One time I said, ‘Pretty alright,’ and it just stuck. It’s been about 12 years,” he said. The restaurant’s tagline, “Dont you forgettabout it! ,” references “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” a hit by the Scottish bands Simple Minds that became a 1980s anthem as the theme song of the 1985 movie “The Breakfast Club.”

Longton started posting TikTok videos in September 2020. The first 15 were about his travels, snowboarding or skateboarding, with the first cooking video, a time-lapse look at working in the Windowbox kitchen, going online in December 2021. They started in earnest in February of last year, with a nine-second pan across what’s described as 180 dozen eggs, set to a child singing “You Are So Beautiful.” It got more than 41,000 views. Another 40-plus cooking TikToks followed, each drawing tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of views, and one, of a dramatic, slow-motion omelet flip, boasting 1.2 million views and 23,000 likes. The account now has approximately 183,800 followers.

After working in a professional kitchen for more than half of his life, Longton said he is unfazed by the prospect of feeding customers at Pretty Alright Breakfast Club, but the business side of things, he acknowledged, is intimidating.

“That’s the new challenge,” he said. “It’s a little scary, but I’m opening up my brain to it, and I’ve got so many good people around me. I’m really blessed with that.”

and...‘Hell’s Kitchen’ chef opening Warrensburg restaurant: https://www.timesunion.com/tablehopp...0colonie%20now

"Two years ago at this time, Chestertown native and chef Billy Trudsoe was back at home in Florida, having fared poorly in the January-February filming of the 21st season of the reality-TV cooking competition “Hell’s Kitchen,” though the public wouldn’t know it until the show aired that fall. At the end of the sixth episode, Trudsoe was “fired” from “Hell’s Kitchen” by its shouty celeb-chef star, Gordon Ramsay. He finished 14th.

Around the same time as he became unemployed in the eyes of TV audiences, Trudsoe returned to the North Country as executive chef of Basil & Wick’s Restaurant & Bar in North Creek. He is now a partner in the restaurant and said he is in negotiations to become the next owner.

He knows the region well, because for almost two decades prior to his stint in Florida, he worked in Lake George-area kitchens, including as the executive chef of The Algonquin, Chateau on the Lake and Blue Water Manor, all in Bolton Landing.

Now, Trudsoe is developing his own restaurant, Lizzie Keays Kitchen & Cocktails in Warrensburg, which he signed a lease to revive after a previous operator closed it this past winter. He hopes to open in the first weeks of June, pending the approval of a liquor license. The restaurant previously was called simply Lizzie Keays, named after a late-19th-century worker in the former shirt-factory complex where it is located. One of her paychecks was found on the property during renovation.

The restaurant, with a capacity of a little more than 100 and a terrace overlooking the Schroon River, will be open from 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, according to Trudsoe. He said it will be upscale-casual in atmosphere and ambition — “We want everyone from Bill Gates to Joe Schmo to be comfortable here,” he said — and he’s intent on showcasing the food to build his culinary brand, called B. True’s Mad Flava.

Though he didn’t excel on TV, the chef doesn’t regret participating in “Hell’s Kitchen.”

“It wasn’t an ego boost, really, but it made me more determined, focused and career-motivated than ever,” Trudsoe said.

Adjusting from reality TV with one of the world’s most famous chefs to the reality of cooking near Gore Mountain had its bumps, Trudsoe acknowledged.

“It’s a dream to (cook) for Gordon. He’s the culinary G.O.A.T.,” he said, using a term often applied to athletes said to be the “greatest of all time.” “Being on the show is the ultimate high. And then suddenly you’re off that roller-coaster ride.”

But, Trudsoe said, “That was TV. Now I’m working on my real dreams.”
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Old 05-17-2024, 11:05 AM
94,453 posts, read 125,431,704 times
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From the Table Hopping section of the Times-Union: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...r.9d0/8b4cefc5
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Old Today, 11:48 AM
94,453 posts, read 125,431,704 times
Reputation: 18339
More from The Food Life Blog in the Albany Times-union: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...p.38p/75b9d690
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Old Today, 02:48 PM
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Reputation: 18339
From the Table Hopping blog also from the Times-Union: https://link.timesunion.com/view/615...n.77f/3fabbe88
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