Displaying items by tag: Downtown Saratoga

Thursday, 07 May 2020 12:50

Downtown Struggles to Survive

SARATOGA SPRINGS — “Doors are closing. People are closing. It’s already too late for many businesses,” said Heidi West, Lifestyles of Saratoga owner. 

West is just one voice of many small business owners all coming to the same consensus, it may already be too late for the once bustling downtown Saratoga. While some stores embraced reinventing to keep business going for them amid COVID-19 restrictions, others were not so lucky. 

“A lot of doors are closing. We don’t have much time left to be honest. We do need to figure out how to be safe and be open all at the same time,” West said. “All of this makes it an uphill battle but…give us a fighting chance. Open our doors so we can get through it.”

The community of Saratoga Springs has felt the impact of economic restrictions before. In 1945, the community was filled with rundown structures following both the Great Depression and World War II. It was not until 10 years later, in 1958 the Planning Board moved forward with the city’s master plan for renewal. 

For years to come, the city saw plenty of urban renewal. However, individuals and small businesses owners lost low-cost rents and had “no choice” in what was happening, seeing the destruction of neighborhoods and facing costly relocation expenses. 

Small businesses worry that the town can revert back to those moments in history and time is not on their side as restriction stay in place. However, just as locals saw the creation of the new normal then, businesses are facing the new normal of today.

“It’s not like we are going to open our doors the way they were six months ago, not by any stretch. Our new normal will be gloves, masks, and disinfecting, but with our doors open. But we have to at least be able to open our doors,” said Pam Worth, owner of Spoken Boutique.

As restriction continue to wear on businesses, coming back from what was lost may not be possible. Safety is at the forefronts of any plans business owners create with the hopes
of reopening.

“It is my opinion…I can be safer than a big box store. I have a 12 step program already typed up about how I’m changing protocol,” West said. “Even being allowed to have an one-on-one appointment with that protocol in place would be helpful. We just need to keep moving forward.”

Todd L. Shimkus, president of Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, has drafted a “Plan for Saratoga County’s Economic Recovery” through a collaboration with the Downtown Business Association, the City Center, Discover Saratoga, SEDC, and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership.

“We’ve been sharing [the plan] with Federal, State, County and local officials. The development of this plan is in part a way for Saratoga County to demonstrate that we have a plan to safely reopen. The Governor has said this is a pre-requisite for businesses and we’re hoping that by doing this collectively with common operating procedures that we will position Saratoga County in a positive light,” Shimkus said. 

Shimkus shared two key aspects of the multi-part plan. Recovery kits for small business have been created to include a startup supply of PPE for all business. They also have met with local restaurants and will be doing the same with hotels and retailers to develop common cleaning protocols that those businesses will pledge to follow once reopened.

“Our focus is on making it crystal clear that health comes first in Saratoga County and that our local business community is united in working together to keep everyone safe so that we can reopen sooner,” Shimkus said. 

Pam Worth feels that downtown has a strong impulse of businesses wanting to prove they can open safely.

“Saratoga is a much different town than most, being one of the top five downtowns in all of the United States. I feel who better to set the precedence in what should happen in a beautiful resort town but Saratoga Springs,” Worth said. “We all want to open our doors safely and set the right precedent to what is the new normal. But in order for all of that to happen, we have got to get the doors open.”

Maddy Zanetti, Impressions of Saratoga owner with Marianne Barker, said they plan to take extra precautions, clean things more, and stay distant from customers as soon as their doors are open. Zanetti feels that foot traffic will take a while to pick up, as people adjust to going out and feeling comfortable around others.

“We are definitely worried about how this year is going to pan out for us, but we are making the most of it and doing the best we can,” Zanetti said. 

West believes it’s not too late to bounce back, but the key is getting safety plans in place as soon as possible. If she can’t open by June 1, she will have to focus on different plans in terms of closing doors. 

“My success is the success of my 20 employees, who are suffering, and the success of the whole community. I really just want a voice for the small business. It’s becoming crucial at this point in my opinion,” West said. 

Worth believes with the downtown leaders being business owners, everyone can bring an opinion and structure as to how they can get the town up and running again. 

“Saratoga is an amazing downtown community that wants nothing more than to survive and to stay successful,” Worth said. “The strong local community that we have, and the local people that support our downtown, are the ones that are going to keep us alive.”

Published in Business
Tuesday, 08 October 2019 09:29

The Mercantile Kitchen and Bar

You can call it a kitchen and bar; that’s its name after all. But this 10-month old restaurant on bustling Broadway has the soul of a diner. The Mercantile Kitchen & Bar (or simply The Merc) opened in the space formerly occupied by Cantina – which moved down the street into what used to be Lillian’s – and aimed to bring a neighborhood feel and familiar, unfussy food to downtown.

The Merc has the hallmarks of a classic Long Island diner: breakfast until 3 pm, simple, affordable menu items and a natural gathering space. But it is a far cry from the chrome-clad, neon-lighted, 
“Hey, sugar, what can I getcha” kind of eatery.

“I wanted to open a modern diner,” said co-owner Chris Luriea, who has worked in the restaurant industry for the better part of 20 years, including at Max London’s and Cantina.

“I’ve been working on this street for 15 years,” Luriea said. “I got to see it evolve. Saratoga is a big, small town and people know what they like.”

What the people like is good food and the chance to enjoy the brief, but beautiful spring, summer and fall seasons. Grab a seat outside on the patio or on the side of the restaurant, just tucked back from the sidewalk. The interior doesn’t disappoint where crisp white vintage-inspired floor tiles and sophisticated navy blue booths work together in a modern contrast.

When it comes to the food, Luriea and business partner Jeff Ames, who also owns Cantina, have opted for a restrained menu that emphasizes seasonal ingredients.

The roasted beet tartare salad balances the earthiness of the roasted red beets with tangy goat cheese, peppery arugula, creamy avocado, bright orange segments and toasted walnuts. It gets tied together with a honey mustard and is served with toast points.

Burrata is available year round, but for the summer, The Merc offers a textural and palate-pleasing counterpoint to the burrata’s sweet creaminess by pairing it with fresh, grilled peaches and tart cherry tomatoes.

Like a true Long Island diner, there is steak on the menu. The 12 ounce New York strip steak is one of six generously-sized entrees and comes with tender-crisp green beans, pan roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary and just-burst sautéed cherry tomatoes.

For lunch or a lighter dinner, choose from a burger or a selection of six hot and cold sandwiches.

If it’s breakfast you’re after, don’t even set the alarm. The most important meal of the day is served until 3 p.m. All the usual suspects grace the menu: pancakes, eggs, corned beef hash and avocado toast. Listed between the build-your-own omelet and the Greek yogurt is The Merc’s take on eggs benedict.

The Benny sees three thin slices of Canadian bacon each atop halves of toasted English muffins. Two perfectly poached eggs get the royal treatment with a ladle of buttery-bright Hollandaise. There is just enough English muffin to soak up the yolk and the Hollandaise without leaving you with too much toast or a puddle of sauce.

You can enjoy The Benny in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the afternoon with a seasonal cocktail from the bar. The mango rum punch is tropical, smooth and sweet while in the cucumber cooler, lime and cucumber dance together for a bubbly sip. Seasonal berries make appearances in the raspberry mojito and the blueberry sparkle.

The rich bittersweet chocolate crème brulee with strawberries and whipped cream and the browned butter pound cake are both rich and not-too-sweet dessert options.

“Opening a restaurant is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Luriea said. “It’s been a lot of work and I haven’t had a day off since two months before we opened.”

The hard work is paying off, though. His experience and willingness to listen to his customers and staff means that 80 percent of the original staff is still on board – a near miracle in an industry notorious for turnover. And while they’ve stuck mostly to the plan and been faithful to the original vision of running a modern diner, Luriea said he has also made changes based on customer feedback.

“Everyone has a voice,” Luriea said. “I want to know what the customers are digging and what they’re not.”

The Merc features live, local music on Thursdays and plans to start up a Thursday Supper Club in September that will run through the winter.

Although The Merc is not yet a year old, Luriea believes in its future success.

“I’m so appreciative of the community and the business,” he said. “If we give the people what they want, I think in 10 years we could be a staple, The Merc could be a household name.”

The Mercantile Kitchen & Bar, 
430 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Published in Lifestyle
Monday, 07 October 2019 10:47

The Mercantile Kitchen and Bar

You can call it a kitchen and bar; that’s its name after all. But this 10-month old restaurant on bustling Broadway has the soul of a diner. The Mercantile Kitchen & Bar (or simply The Merc) opened in the space formerly occupied by Cantina – which moved down the street into what used to be Lillian’s – and aimed to bring a neighborhood feel and familiar, unfussy food to downtown.

The Merc has the hallmarks of a classic Long Island diner: breakfast until 3 pm, simple, affordable menu items and a natural gathering space. But it is a far cry from the chrome-clad, neon-lighted, 
“Hey, sugar, what can I getcha” kind of eatery.

“I wanted to open a modern diner,” said co-owner Chris Luriea, who has worked in the restaurant industry for the better part of 20 years, including at Max London’s and Cantina.

“I’ve been working on this street for 15 years,” Luriea said. “I got to see it evolve. Saratoga is a big, small town and people know what they like.”

What the people like is good food and the chance to enjoy the brief, but beautiful spring, summer and fall seasons. Grab a seat outside on the patio or on the side of the restaurant, just tucked back from the sidewalk. The interior doesn’t disappoint where crisp white vintage-inspired floor tiles and sophisticated navy blue booths work together in a modern contrast.

When it comes to the food, Luriea and business partner Jeff Ames, who also owns Cantina, have opted for a restrained menu that emphasizes seasonal ingredients.

The roasted beet tartare salad balances the earthiness of the roasted red beets with tangy goat cheese, peppery arugula, creamy avocado, bright orange segments and toasted walnuts. It gets tied together with a honey mustard and is served with toast points.

Burrata is available year round, but for the summer, The Merc offers a textural and palate-pleasing counterpoint to the burrata’s sweet creaminess by pairing it with fresh, grilled peaches and tart cherry tomatoes.

Like a true Long Island diner, there is steak on the menu. The 12 ounce New York strip steak is one of six generously-sized entrees and comes with tender-crisp green beans, pan roasted fingerling potatoes with rosemary and just-burst sautéed cherry tomatoes.

For lunch or a lighter dinner, choose from a burger or a selection of six hot and cold sandwiches.

If it’s breakfast you’re after, don’t even set the alarm. The most important meal of the day is served until 3 p.m. All the usual suspects grace the menu: pancakes, eggs, corned beef hash and avocado toast. Listed between the build-your-own omelet and the Greek yogurt is The Merc’s take on eggs benedict.

The Benny sees three thin slices of Canadian bacon each atop halves of toasted English muffins. Two perfectly poached eggs get the royal treatment with a ladle of buttery-bright Hollandaise. There is just enough English muffin to soak up the yolk and the Hollandaise without leaving you with too much toast or a puddle of sauce.

You can enjoy The Benny in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the afternoon with a seasonal cocktail from the bar. The mango rum punch is tropical, smooth and sweet while in the cucumber cooler, lime and cucumber dance together for a bubbly sip. Seasonal berries make appearances in the raspberry mojito and the blueberry sparkle.

The rich bittersweet chocolate crème brulee with strawberries and whipped cream and the browned butter pound cake are both rich and not-too-sweet dessert options.

“Opening a restaurant is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Luriea said. “It’s been a lot of work and I haven’t had a day off since two months before we opened.”

The hard work is paying off, though. His experience and willingness to listen to his customers and staff means that 80 percent of the original staff is still on board – a near miracle in an industry notorious for turnover. And while they’ve stuck mostly to the plan and been faithful to the original vision of running a modern diner, Luriea said he has also made changes based on customer feedback.

“Everyone has a voice,” Luriea said. “I want to know what the customers are digging and what they’re not.”

The Merc features live, local music on Thursdays and plans to start up a Thursday Supper Club in September that will run through the winter.

Although The Merc is not yet a year old, Luriea believes in its future success.

“I’m so appreciative of the community and the business,” he said. “If we give the people what they want, I think in 10 years we could be a staple, The Merc could be a household name.”

The Mercantile Kitchen & Bar, 
430 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Published in News

Blotter

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Property Transactions

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  • NYPA
  • Saratoga County Chamber
  • BBB Accredited Business
  • Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association