Troy Beer Garden, The Sold Berlin; meat dishes added to the vegan meu

TROY — Two longtime restaurateurs who left the business in recent years are returning to the industry with their first venture as business partners taking over Troy Beer Garden and its upstairs cocktail bar, The Berlin. They buy the businesses, at 2 King St., across from the Troy end of the Green Island Bridge, from founder Matt Baumgartner, who retains ownership of the building.

Closed for minor renovations this week, Troy Beer Garden will reopen Tuesday, Oct. 11 under the ownership of Mickey Blanchfield, owner of Beff’s Tavern on Albany’s Everett Road from 1991 to 2015, and Amy Conway, of upscale Conway’s on Yates. in Albany from the mid-1990s until the early 2000s.

They tell me they’re keeping the look of the plant-festooned wonderland that Baumgartner created when he transformed the Troy site of Wolff’s Biergarten into the Troy Beer Garden in April 2021. They’re also keeping the progressive cocktail program.

But they are ditching a menu that only offered plant-based foods. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon with an Instagram photo of a shrimp dish that generated an entirely predictable argument, growing to more than 80 comments in less than 24 hours.

Sample discussion:

  • “Thank goodness for some alternative options!”
  • “Ohhhh nooooooo this is devolution not improvement. Shrimps are beings, not food.”
  • “It’s wrong to kill animals when you don’t need to and obviously eating animals is worse than eating plants.”
  • “If you had actually supported the company, they probably wouldn’t have changed their menu.”

In their responses, Conway and Blanchfield attempted to calm the conversation, repeatedly insisting that they would continue to have plant-based foods. But, they said in interviews, although Troy Beer Garden teemed with customers for many months after it opened, as people checked it out for the first time and sampled the vegan dishes, food orders had plummeted. last summer.

Alluding to the popularity of the Baumgartner community with past businesses including Bombers Burrito Bar, The Olde English, Noche, multi-location Wolff’s and his current June Farms, among others, Conway said: “Everyone loves Matt, he did a wonderful job of turning it into (Troy Beer Garden), and everyone wanted to check it out at first, but the food disappeared a lot.”

Blanchfield said the revenue numbers the pair saw in February, when they started considering TBG and The Berlin, remained strong. However, he said: “We kept coming in over time and watching. People would have a drink but leave because they couldn’t find what they wanted, or it looked like they’d already tried the food and knew that this time they were definitely going somewhere else for dinner.”

Blanchfield added: “We saw great potential here, but we knew as a business model it wasn’t sustainable as it was.” (Baumgartner’s staff originally oversaw food production for TBG, but it was eventually outsourced to a vegan catering company.)

In addition to the controversial shrimp, Troy Beer Garden’s new menu will include sharing plates, salads with protein options, sandwiches and meat specialties. A pizza oven has been ordered. Blanchfield, who found great pizza success at Beff, said Conway eventually relaxed his fried food ban to allow another Beff’s favorite chicken “toes” (i.e. fingers or fillets).

“It’s not a pub, and it’s not a place for full, expensive entrees,” Conway said.

Other changes include a 5ft high wall between the bar and dining room, an expanded beer list at Blanchfield, sofas replaced with more dining tables, and the dropping of TBG’s requirement that customers must scan a QR code at the table to order food and pay. on line.

“We hired servers,” Conway said. “There will be table service.”

“I’m old-school enough to hate QR codes,” Blanchfield said. “We’re going to keep the nice look of the place, but there will be an expanded crowd there, not just people in their 20s. We want people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, families – all of that .”

Starting Tuesday, Troy Beer Garden will be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch can be added next year.

The Berlin, recently opened for private events only, will retain its signature 1930s cocktail bar look when it reopens later this fall. Conway said she is planning expanded days, hours and programming, including theme nights, paint-and-sip nights and acoustic music.

The sale to Blanchfield and Conway leaves Baumgartner with only June Farms as an operating hospitality business. After founding Bombers on Lark Street in Albany in 1997, he opened at least seven other restaurant/bar concepts, including two, Bombers and Wolff’s, each with four locations at any given time. He’s since sold interests in all but June Farms, a food bar in West Sand Lake that’s also an event venue, animal farm and home to several Airbnb accommodations.

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