Businesses aim for Saratoga’s best season – Daily Gazette

The opening of the Saratoga Race Course on Thursday means more revenue in Saratoga Springs, and after two summers of pandemic disruption, businesses in town are poised for a much better track season.

Visitors to Spa City can expect some new restaurants with more staff, shopkeepers with fewer masks and what is likely to be an overall feeling of less fear.

Restaurants, hotels and shops are welcoming guests with open arms after tourism fell dramatically during the 2020 and 2021 horse racing seasons as COVID-19 and its variants destroyed livelihoods around the world.

One of the newest additions to the dining scene is Rhea at 389 Broadway, which added more seating to the dining room and installed a new outdoor patio space for the season.

“There’s no better benchmark of how your business is doing than eight weeks into the track season,” said head chef Peter Hahm.

Rhea started as a small pop-up selling noodle dishes, pastries and noodles at the other neighboring restaurant it owns, Seneca. As its popularity grew, the Noodle House pop-up morphed into an Asian-influenced restaurant for dinner and drinks.

“Track season is where you get a lot of big fish from places like Manhattan and New York City who want to spend big money. On Broadway, you can go to a burger place or a steakhouse and both can be very expensive. There’s nothing wrong with those places, but what makes Rhea unique is that we carry all those menus with our drinks, our food, our desserts – and you won’t feel like you broke the bank when you leave,” said Huh.

To prepare for track season, Hahm is focused on keeping a positive mindset.

“If you’ve been through the track, it’s stressful and you’re grinding bone on bone every day. There is no such thing as an off day, because it will never be slow. … The key is to make progress in preparation every day and stay organized. My job in the kitchen is to make sure everyone on the line is prepared and trained,” Hahm said. “To be a part of something brand new in the middle of the Saratoga racetrack, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity. good.”

At the Adelphi Hotel, which is heading into its 148th season, both of its restaurants — Morrissey’s Lounge & Bistro and Salt & Char at 365 Broadway — will be well staffed. The historic downtown landmark, which has hosted guests such as the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Theodore Roosevelt, expects to have 240 employees on staff, up from 140 during the year. Rooms can cost more than $1,000 a night during peak season, while in the off-season they range from $300 to $500.

And now visitors can find an Adelphi restaurant right on the runway, said Patrick Toomey, Adelphi’s director of restaurants.

“Last year we saw a lot of last-minute cancellations with COVID. This year we are finally getting a full season. I can feel it already,” said Toomey, who has spent six years at Adelphi. “It’s going to be a unique season. I think it’s going to be very busy.”

Toomey was born and raised in Saratoga Springs and spends most of his time working at the hotel. “We open at 7 a.m. every day and don’t leave until the guests do,” he said.

“We never closed during COVID. No one missed a shift,” he added. At the height of the pandemic, Morrissey prepared 200 to 300 three-course dinners a day for $15 each, Toomey said. “We have a valet who can wait 10 cars ahead to do checkout service. We took advantage of what we had. The boss had a vision and greenlit it and it was fun.”

The restaurant sent 1,000 meals to the Wesley Community Nursing Home during the pandemic, and now that goodwill — call it karma — is finding its way back to restaurants.

“Since doing this, we’ve created so many new customers based on the offer we’ve made during the pandemic. “We didn’t make any money, but we made a lot of friends,” Toomey said. “A lot of those people have since come back and still talk about what we did. It’s a big reason why we’re as busy every day as we are now.”

On August 27 and 28, the Travers draw will take place at the hotel, which is undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion expected to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024.

As Adelphi charts a growth path, the Hat sational retailer! has been consolidating its locations since the pandemic.

“We closed one of our stores during COVID” as business came to a halt, owner Joyce Locks said, but on the other hand, “We survived.”

The challenge with the hat business, Locks said, is that “hats are something you have to try, so it was difficult.” The year-round store at 506 Broadway complements its open business with online shopping and shipping. “There’s a lot more that goes into wearing hats than people think. “One’s height, the fit of the hat and what you wear are all ways to figure out which hat is best for someone,” Locks said.

The Tailgate and Party Shop moved to Phila and Putnam Streets from Caroline Street and is counting on more foot traffic. The little thrift store sells a variety of party games, decorations, supplies, gift bags and activities for parties or small gatherings. It opened two years ago in the middle of the pandemic. The owner, Kirsten Lambert, had to wait to open until the COVID regulations were lifted.

Store hours will be extended from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday during the season, and the store will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, Lambert said.

Another operation that has extended its hours for the season is The Bourbon Room and Soundbar nightclub at 8 and 6 Caroline St.

“The great thing about track is that it just throws so many people on the road,” said Brian Miller, director of marketing. “The other 40-some weeks are where the bills are paid and the profit comes from the track.”

Soundbar, a tiki-inspired indoor lounge, will add Thursdays to its regular Friday and Saturday hours.

“There are many things. You have SPAC, bar no. 1 of music in the country, right there,” Miller said. “There were times when, for example, when American Pharoah was the only horse to win the Triple Crown and the Travers — nobody did it — and on the same day Zac Brown sold SPAC. They limited it to 55,000 people at the track, 40,000 people at the SPAC, and there were another 100,000 people that just came to town to be a part of it. That’s what makes Saratoga.”

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