Cohoes officials hope someone will take over Smith's,
which was opened in 1937 by Democratic bigwig Michael Smith. (John
Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)
Smith’s restaurant in Cohoes celebrates its second anniversary,
Mardi Gras this weekend
It has been two years since Smith’s Restaurant
re-opened under new management and its new owner is celebrating with
festivities this weekend and a new menu, which will debut soon.
The anniversary activities start today at happy hour and will
continue throughout the weekend, said Joe Hostig, a Waterford
developer who grew up in Cohoes and purchased the historic eatery in
the fall of 2008.
The Rusty Old Guys two-man band, which played at the anniversary
party last year and has become an annual music tradition at the
restaurant, will play from 9 p.m. to midnight tonight.
“They’re a crowd favorite,” said Hostig.
Along with music, there will be bar specials and food specials. A
voodoo-esque peel-and-eat shrimp dish will be served as part of the
Mardi Gras merriment in downtown today. Several businesses in the
Remsen Street area, including Harmony House Marketplace and
BeauKnits, are staying open for the second annual Fat Tuesday
celebration, said Diane Conroy-LaCivita, with the Harmony House.
In a couple of weeks, Hostig explained, a new menu will be unveiled
at what has been a hub of the Spindle City since 1973.
“I’m excited. We are putting together something very nice with a lot
of enhancements,” he said noting that old favorites and restaurant
staples will remain on the new list of creative and tasteful food
options. “It has new styles and flavors.”
Other future plans include to reach out to new city residents in the
higher-end apartment facilities and show them what downtown,
especially Smith’s, has to offer.
There are 20 employees at the restaurant and Hostig said future
expansion of employees was a good possibility.
“When I purchased Smith’s, I did not know what would happen in a
struggling economic time and that after two years I would head into
year three full steam ahead. I am optimistic with expanding and
enhancing our venue. The focus of year three is on growth.”
The history of the 171 Remsen St. structure began when it was built
in 1873. It originally served as a silent movie theatre and a pool
hall. Then, around the turn of the 20th century, it was converted
into a tavern.
In 1937, Michael “Big Mike” Smith, a former Cohoes Democratic
leader, purchased the establishment and it became the unofficial
Democratic headquarters in the city.
A further testament to the restaurant’s affiliation with politics,
the 50-foot bar in the restaurant, estimated to be worth around
$100,000, was brought from Tammany Hall in New York City which was
home to the New York City Democratic Party. The African mahogany
bar, inlaid with walnut wood, was once believed to be the largest
bar north of New York City.
Friday, March 4, 2011- By Danielle Sanzone
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