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The proud chef: Dan Spitz and his bistro.

photo: Alicia Solsman

Starving No More
By David King

The artists on Beekman Street in Saratoga Springs get a place to eat, and so does the community

 

Beekman is not the typical Saratoga Springs street. Its longest-established business, Bart’s Shoe Hospital, is housed in a ramshackle building that seems to list to one side. A Do Not Cross yellow-tape strand serves as the railing to its cement porch; a tipped-over For Sale sign guards the entrance.

Nick Sabino, who has lived in the neighborhood all his life and inherited the business from his father, sits behind a cracked wooden counter that is littered with cans of shoe polish and plastic supermarket bags filled with splintered loafers. He recalls that Beekman has seen better days: “There were businesses throughout this area. This was a community inside of a community: We had a bakery, a cheese shop, all the stores we needed. There was a movie theater down the street, there were five restaurants, and we had great artisans, craftspeople. Then one by one they went away.”

According to Sabino, during the ’80s and ’90s the street was overtaken with crime and drug dealers. But, of late, he says, those elements have become few and far between; if Beekman has seen better days, it’s also seen worse.

Beekman Street sits just a few blocks down from the tip of Broadway that has been overrun by franchises. What has become known as the “starving-artist section” of Saratoga is only blocks away from McDonald’s, Boston Market, Pizza Hut and Stewart’s—shops that serve as symbols for both Saratoga’s success and its struggle to maintain its character.

There is development taking place on Beekman Street, too, but it’s not the kind that has become typical for Saratoga.

Tim Meaney stands on the unfinished porch of his bistro on Beekman Street amid the hum and twirl of sanders, saws and drills. Dressed in white shorts, a Cake band T-shirt and a baseball cap, Tim hardly looks like the owner of a hip new bistro in Saratoga’s artist district. “We’re going to try to keep it local, keep it fresh and buck the system and corporate America,” he says, then he turns the handle on the door and—just like that—the dust and grime of the construction gives way to dark polished wide-board floors that are covered with welcoming tables and surrounded by intricate pottery.

According to Beekman Bistro chef Dan Spitz, the idea behind the bistro is to “use what’s in our backyard. These farmers out here have to go to New York City to sell their products. You will never see a Sysco truck in front of our place.” Spitz is working with more than 20 local farms, and explains that “some farmers don’t want to work with chefs because of our demands, because of quantities; some things aren’t available all the time. But I’m going to change my menu with what is available.”

Another Beekman business, Gotchya’s Trading Co, also opened its doors about two weeks ago after two years of renovations on buildings that are centuries old. Michael Pape and Michelle Corbett’s café and art gallery—along with Meaney and Spitz’s bistro—has given city residents reason to visit Beekman Street, besides the galleries. And it’s becoming harder to buy the designation of Beekman as the starving-artist district. Especially since Meaney and Spitz held two parties to announce their opening, at which they served six-course dinners to invited local artists and residents—for free.

Spitz points out that while the area is known as the starving-artist district, “the artists don’t create much of a buzz. They are inside making art seven days a week. So we are bringing more people in. We help them out by hanging their work and they have been helping us out by sending people down.” According to Meaney, the bistro’s official opening was held without advertising except for a small mailing to local artists. In keeping with the theme of integrating the restaurant into the community, Spitz has designed the portions and atmosphere of his restaurant to promote long stays, to make people feel comfortable to sit and chat. “This isn’t one of those unbutton-your-belt-when-you’re-done-with-your-meal places,” he says.

The opening of Gotchya’s was also held without advertising. Gotchya’s offers a different sort of fare from the Beekman Street Bistro. Gotchya’s has one room dedicated to serving café-style drinks and a whole other room dedicated to a one-artist gallery. The cafe also features a stone patio. “I think people are getting sick of corporate,” says Corbett. “This is the last vestige of the real Saratoga,” adds Pape. They note that their building has enjoyed a rich history and has been visited by famous jockeys and gangsters alike. The building that was once home to a distillery and was likely a speakeasy now is home to the couple’s second-story clay-working gallery.

The couple also would like to get involved in film and have spoken to the Film Forum about holding showings in their gallery. According to Corbett, she has heard from local artisans that they feel there is an impending shift in Saratoga from the focus on the track to a focus on the arts. While she certainly would not mind seeing that shift, she thinks for now the two can coexist and feed into each other. Corbett sees the Beekman district functioning akin to Christo’s The Gates: “If something like that can happen at a small level here in Saratoga, I think things will improve for everyone.”

Nick Sabino is excited about the new development on Beekman, despite the fact that he has been forced to sell his property and close Bart’s Shoe Hospital due to health reasons. “I don’t see any reason it can’t happen here,” he says. “They can revitalize the street. They can hold back the development. If they stick together they can do it, but it will take time like everything else.”

dking@metroland.net

Saratoga CALENDAR

Concerts

Aug. 4-10

SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga Springs, tickets: 476-1000). 8/7: the Backstreet Boys.

TANG MUSEUM (Skidmore College, 815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080). Fri: Sonny and Perley.

 

Clubs

Aug. 4-10

THE ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Tue: karaoke with Mark the Shark.

BAILEY’S (Phila and Putnam streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060). Thu: Juan and Corbin. Fri: Bobby Dick and the Sundowners. Sat: Rich Ortiz. Sun: Chuck Kelsey.

BETTER THAN TOAST (454 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, www.thefarmtomarket.com). Sun: Death Vessel and Tom Leach.

BIG BOBBY BROWN’S ROCKIN BARBEQUE (Saratoga Lake, 584-2446). Sat: E’Town Express. Sun: Marie Taziki and Carl Todora.

BRINDISI’S RESTAURANT (390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262). Sat: Bluz House Rockers.

CAFFE LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu: open mic (7 PM). Fri: the Rowan Brothers. Sat: Susan Trump CD release party. Sun: Brian Gibney. Tue: Utah Phillips & the Rose Tattoo.

CIRCUS CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Fri: DJ dance party. Sat: karaoke with A-Man Productions. Wed: Garland Nelson, Soul Session.

CLUB CAROLINE (13 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0155). Thu: karaoke. Fri: DJ. Sat: DJ. Tue: karaoke.

THE CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686). Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D, hiphop, club mixes.

DOZERS (411 Geyser Road, Saratoga Springs, 587-9478). Fri: Sonic Basement.

E. O’DWYER’S (15 Spring St., Saratoga Springs, 583-6476). Thu: Soul Session. Fri: Hot Buttered Rum String Band. Sat: Brothers Past.

GAFFNEY’S (16 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-7359). Thu: Bluz House Rockers. Fri: Don Hommel and friends. Sat: Rick Bolton and the Dwyer Sisters. Sun: Jeff Brisbin.

HORSESHOE INN (1 Gridley St., Saratoga Springs, 587-4909). Sat: Blue Hand Luke.

KING’S TAVERN (241 Union St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9643). Fri: Catacomb Gypsy Vagina, Valley, Lucia Lie. Sat: Vesper, Going Nowhere.

9 MAPLE AVENUE (9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-CLUB). Fri: Camille Morin Quartet. Sat: Keith Pray Quintet.

O’CALLAGHAN’S (14 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-3209). Fri: Danny Garcia and Katy Dwyer. Sat: Mary Migliozzi and friends.

PANZA’S RESTAURANT (Route 9P, Saratoga Lake, 584-6882). Thu: Noreen Pratt. Fri, Sat: Colleen Pratt, Peg Delaney.

THE PARTING GLASS (40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-1916). Thu: the Redeemers. Fri: Bluz House Rockers. Sat: 2096 the Band.

PEABODY’S SPORTS BAR (Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 583-4214). Sat: SubZero.

SARATOGA CITY TAVERN (Caroline Street and Maple Avenue, Saratoga Springs, 581-3230). Thu: Rick Bolton. Fri-Sat: DJ Chris. Tue: Dark Day Blues, George Fletcher’s Bourbon Renewal. Wed: Jeff Halstead.

SIRO’S (168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). Fri: Electric City Horns. Sat: the Burners UK. Sun: Scotty Mac. Mon: Big Medicine. Wed: Bluz House Rockers.

 

CLASSICAL

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 8/4, 8:15 PM: The Philadelphia Orchestra, with violinist Lisa Batiashvili, will perform works by Ravel, Sibelius and Dvorák (Symphony No. 9). 8/5, 8:15 PM: Marvin Hamlisch will conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in a pops program featuring the music of Richard Rogers. With tenor Mark McVey. 8/6, 8:15 PM: Violinist Gil Shaham joins the Philadelphia Orchestra in works by Fauré, Debussy and Brahms (Violin Concerto). 8/9, 7:30 PM: Boys Choir and Girls Choir of Harlem in concert. $15, $8, free lawn admission for children 12 and under. 8/10, 8:15 PM: The Philadelphia Orchestra will debut Ranjbaran’s Saratoga, and also perform works by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. With pianist Emanuel Ax. $60-$15. 587-3330.

Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs. 8/7, 2:15 PM: Saratoga Chamber Music Festival presents Gil Shaham (violin) and ensemble in works by Ranjbaran, De Falla, Boccherini and Brahms. 8/9, 8:15 PM: Emanuel Ax (piano) joins members of the Philadelphia Orchestra in works by Ranjbaran, Mozart, Ravel and Martinü. $34.50-$29.50. 587-3330.

 

MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Saratoga Inside Out. Through 9/3. Receptions 8/4, 6-9 PM, and 9/1, 6-8:30 PM.

Circus Café, 392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 583-1106. Works by Pierre Bellocq. Through 9/5.

Congress Park, Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Art in the Park I. 7/31, 10 AM-4 PM. Also, Public Art Works, featuring works by Lee Nicholls, Bill McTygue, and Michael L. Noonan. Through 12/31.

Gallery 100, 445 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Photographs by Phillip V. Caruso. 8/4-28. Reception 8/6, 6-8 PM.

Gotchya’s Trading Co., 68 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs. 584-5772. Truth Be Told, paintings by Chris Murray. Through 9/2.

National Museum of Dance, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-2225. Dancing Rebels, an exhibit highlighting the work of the New Dance Group. Through May 2006.

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs. 584-0400. Peb: The Art of Humor, featuring cartoons and caricatures by Pierre Bellocq, celebrating horses and racing personalities. Through 12/31. Also, 11th Annual Horsing Around with the Arts student art show. Through 9/30. Also, Golden Memories: Fifty Years of the Racing Hall of Fame; also, paintings from the Charles H. Thierot Collection. Through 12/31.

New York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs. 581-5100. New York’s Fighting Zouaves. Through Oct. 2005. Also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary War. Ongoing. Also, To the Standard: Civil War Cavalry Flags from the NYS Battle Flag Collection. Ongoing.

Saratoga Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. East of Detroit, and New York Racing exhibit. Ongoing.

Saratoga County Arts Council, Member Exhibition Hall, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Works by Paul Arnold. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs. 584-7860. Works by Monique Lemaire. Through 8/31.

Saratoga Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 587-3241. Works by Robert Ewell. Through 8/29.

Skidmore College, Schick Art Gallery, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-5049. Anything But Realism, group exhibition. Through 9/22.

Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs. 587-6433. Pathways, paintings by Joanne K. Murphy. Through 8/31.

Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Weapons of Mass Dissemination: The Propaganda of War. Through 10/30. Also, Opener 9: Michael Oatman. Through 9/5.

 

FARMERS MARKETS

Malta/Saratoga Farmers Market, Dave Meager Community Center, Route 9, Malta. Tuesdays, 11 AM-2 PM.

Saratoga Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.

 

SPORTS/OUTDOOR

Saratoga Mountain Bike Association. Informal rides Tuesdays 6 PM, Sundays 10 AM. 788-0847, www.saratogamtb.org.

Saratoga Polo Association, Bloomfield and Denton roads, Saratoga Springs. Matches every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday through 9/4, weather permitting. Gates open 4 PM, start time 5:30 PM. Post-game dinners 7:10 PM. $8 per person or $20 per carload. Under 16 free. Season passes available. 584-8108, www.saratogapolo.com.

Saratoga Stryders. 2005 Camp Saratoga Fun Run Series, Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park’s Camp Saratoga, Scout Road (off Route 50), Wilton. 8/8, 8/22: 6:15 PM. Tony Mangano, 584-3488 or www.saratogastryders.org.

 

Saratoga SHOTS
BY MARTIN BENJAMIN

Jockey John Velazquez tosses his whip to a handler upon entering the winner's circle on board Flower Alley, winner of the Jim Dandy.

 

 


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