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The Questionnaire

We asked some prominent area bar owners a handful of questions about the business, and here’s what they had to say

 

1. What’s the secret to a successful bar?

Listening to what the customers want and over delivering that at a reasonable price and with exceptional quality.

—Kevin Everleth, the Wine Bar and Bistro, Albany

Hard work and caring and diversity of product and people.

—Tess Collins, Tess’ Lark Tavern, Albany

Fate, timing, location, history, customer loyalty, a good cocktail and word of mouth.

—Daniel Osman, the Dream Away Lodge, Becket, Mass.

Good music, good lighting, and tequila.

—Matt Baumgartner, Bombers Burrito Bar, Albany and Schenectady, and Wolff’s Biergarten, Albany

Treat it as though it were your living room.

—Nancy Kupiec, Midtown Tap & Tea Room, Albany

Customers.

—Muddy, Muddy’s Lounge, Watervliet

 

2. How has the business been during the recession?

Our restaurants have had an increase in sales during the recession. I attribute that to our prices being inexpensive.

—Matt Baumgartner

People are still coming in regularly, but less frequently. We’re very grateful.

—Nancy Kupiec

Great.

—Tess Collins

No change. When things are bad in a recession, there are three things that are dominant: booze, broads and gambling. And I have all three.

—Muddy

Excellent.

—Kevin Everleth

Dream Away Lodge has surprisingly enjoyed significant business increase over the last two seasons, certainly due in part to the arrival of my wonderful chef, Amy Loveless.

—Daniel Osman

 

3. What was your bar, originally?

A stable. I left all the utensils for the stable on the wall upstairs, and there’s a hay door up there.

—Tess Collins

Antica Enoteca, another version of what it is now.

—Kevin Everleth

A farmhouse at the edge of the forest, built in the 1790s, then rather famously a brothel and a speakeasy during the Great Depression and the early part of last century. Been the Dream Away Lodge since 1947.

—Daniel Osman

It was built circa 1880 as a garage, then in 1930 it was expanded and rented to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P)

—Nancy Kupiec

Bombers on Lark was originally Carp’s Tavern, a seafood restaurant. Wolff’s was a firehouse.

—Matt Baumgartner

I think it was built as a bar. . . . It oughtta be on historic record—it’s been here forever.

—Muddy

 

4. If your bar were a movie, which one would it be?

The Deer Hunter

—Muddy

Bombers would be Breakin’ (1984); Wolff’s would be Beerfest (2006).

—Matt Baumgartner

Mother Knows Best

—Nancy Kupiec

Casablanca meets Breakfast Club

—Tess Collins

Maybe a bit of Baghdad Café, Brazil, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex thrown in a Cuisinart with vodka and the Technicolor scenes from The Wizard of Oz. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain . . .

—Daniel Osman

 

5. Who are your biggest tippers?

People who work in other restaurants.

—Nancy Kupiec

Service industry (restaurant) individuals.

—Kevin Everleth

People who work in the restaurant industry (hands down).

—Matt Baumgartner

95 percent of my customers are great tippers. But blue-collar workers and hippies are the best.

—Tess Collins

The most generous patrons are the people who get what we’re doing. When it’s your kind of place, people tend to be appreciative.

—Daniel Osman

The older men who come in here and look at my girls.

—Muddy

 

6. What’s the most popular song on your jukebox?

“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga.

—Matt Baumgartner

“Valerie,” the Amy Winehouse version.

—Nancy Kupiec

Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

—Tess Collins

 

7. Have you ever served any celebrities?

OK Go, Everclear, Mohair, Vanessa Carlton, Grace Potter, Bam Margera, Liev Schreiber. The previous owners say Grace Kelly studied her lines in the backroom.

—Tess Collins

Governor Paterson, Senator Gillibrand, other politicians, and various musicians.

—Kevin Everleth

We had the two guys from the hit TV show Reno 911!, and Yolanda Vega is a regular.

—Matt Baumgartner

Patti Page, Alan King, Tommy Lasorda.

—Muddy

From Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review (see Dylan’s epic film Renaldo and Clara), to an Elvis legend, a Sinatra legend and many Jacob’s Pillow and Tanglewood legends from the old days, to a roster of the local glitterati from Berkshire cultural and political life. Raquel Welch, Randy Harrison, Carol Channing, Rex Reed, Mark Morris, Pete Seeger, Arlo, Yo-Yo Ma, Marge Champion, Maureen Stapleton, and Brian Stokes Mitchell—the list goes on and on . . .

—Daniel Osman

All of our customers are celebrities to us!

—Nancy Kupiec

 

8. What’s the worst thing a drunk patron has ever done in your bar?

Got himself thrown out.

—Muddy

Throw up . . . of course!

—Nancy Kupiec

Cause a fight, stole wine

—Kevin Everleth

Passed out in the broom closet, and then woke up after we had already locked up, setting off all the alarms.

—Matt Baumgartner

Started a fight—that’s my No. 1 pet peeve.

—Tess Collins

People’s behavior in public is regularly unbelievable. They don’t even have to be drunk. From leaving dirty diapers in the parking lot to stealing an entire set of glasses. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen . . .

—Daniel Osman

 

9. What’s the best pickup line you’ve ever heard?

I had a fellow who used to come in here and use the fact that he was a wannabe gynecologist.

—Muddy

I’m never here late at night to hear the GOOD ones.

—Nancy Kupiec

The burlesque sketch class/party turned into something much wilder than anyone expected—you might say that the event itself was one big pick-up line. Gotta throw that party again sometime . . . A good pick-up is accident, timing and luck. And playing your cards right. The old methods only work on people you don’t wanna have breakfast with in the morning.

—Daniel Osman

“You own Wolff’s? Show me your sausage.”

—Matt Baumgartner

“I know Tess.”

—Tess Collins

 

10. What’s the weirdest or most surreal thing that happened at your bar?

The staff won’t tell me!

—Nancy Kupiec

People who hang out together here would never be friends anywhere else.

—Tess Collins

I had a commercial shot in here one time, by the AIDS Council, and watching them set up the lighting and the cameras and the sound, it was a little different. I never was exposed to anything like that. It was two guys over a pool table talking about their sex life.

—Muddy

Maybe the time my drunk neighbor stumbled down the porch stairs with his pants around his ankles because he forgot to pull them up when he left the bathroom earlier in the evening. Or was it the night the drunk nutjob threw the shot glass at my head as I stood behind the bar, and took out an entire shelf of glasses . . . ?

—Daniel Osman

It was pretty surreal when I saw my mom do a shot with the mayor.

—Matt Baumgartner

 

11. What was the biggest bar tab anybody ever walked out on?

Four or five hundred dollars—but they came back and paid it.

—Tess Collins

$45

—Nancy Kupiec

People who end up in the middle of the forest for dinner and fun usually end up here because they are drawn to it—it calls to them. Our people generally have some integrity and pay their bills. Walkouts and ugliness have been thankfully rare.

—Daniel Osman

Nothing too bad, probably around $80 or so.

—Matt Baumgartner

$10 by a couple of NYS Assemblymen.

—Kevin Everleth

 

12. What’s the craziest thing you ever saw on the bathroom wall?

Any kind of writing—I don’t understand how people get their frustrations out.

—Muddy

A booger . . . again, of course!

—Nancy Kupiec

We have a gallery in the handicapped bathroom we call the Loo Gallery—we’ve had some pretty wacky art on the walls in there. If anybody came in and scrawled on my walls, things would get ugly . . .

—Daniel Osman

Let’s just say it involved my full name and some interesting language involving a farm animal.

—Matt Baumgartner

 

13. Do you have any bar ghosts?

Does Tom Moore count?

—Matt Baumgartner

The kitchen staff thinks there’s one in the basement—creepy!

—Nancy Kupiec

We have been known to have several, and the paranormal people call from all over to do research here.

—Tess Collins

A local psychic has commented that there was great energy around the Dream Away. I asked if it was good energy or bad and she replied “Great energy, honey. This was a whorehouse—people were having a really good time!”

—Daniel Osman

No.

—Muddy

 

14. Of all the Capital Region bars through the years, what was your favorite?

Historically speaking, in the Berkshires, the Mundy’s era was unforgettable. Nowadays, I love the scene in Hudson.

—Daniel Osman

State Street Pub. Can I put two? QE2.

—Tess Collins

The Devil’s Inn on Green Street (now a vacant lot).

—Nancy Kupiec

I miss Power Company Wednesdays in the 90s.

—Matt Baumgartner

I have never been a drinker.

—Muddy

 

15. Do you give free drinks to Metroland employees, like the place across the street does?

Nice Try!

—Nancy Kupiec

If we ever saw a Metroland employee up here in the hills and recognized him (or her), we’d sure as hell give ‘em a drink!

—Daniel Osman

Nope, I don’t think I get any Metroland employees in here.

—Muddy

I babysit them.

—Tess Collins

I don’t know many Metroland employees, Steve, but next time you’re in I’ll see to it you get a glass or 2 on me!!

—Kevin Everleth

If you weren’t all such booze hounds, we totally would.

—Matt Baumgartner

Back to Bar Guide >>


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