By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor
Craft on 9, the Tallulah-style eatery on Route 9 in Moreau, is doing a total renovation of the former Mikado space in downtown Glens Falls and will relocate there sometime in 2019.
“I’m friends with C.J.,” said Rob Murphy, 30-year-old chef-owner of Craft 9, referring to Chris Patten, the redeveloper of 274 Glen Street at the corner of South.
“He’d dined here a few times, and he told me, ‘I’m buying the building and I want you in it.’” The Craft on 9 name will remain.
Mr. Murphy opened Craft on 9 two-and-a-half years ago, after previously being sous chef at Bistro Tallulah under its founder-owner-chef Shawn Whalen.
Mr. Murphy said he also spent two summers cooking at The Algonquin, so he has experience both at a smaller restaurant (he said Tallulah’s peak was 149 dinners in a day while he said at the Algonquin in Bolton Landing they did 1,500 meals “seven days a week in July and August.” Mr. Murphy says, “I wasn’t a chef. I was a line cook.”
He said the relocated Craft on 9 will expand to just “over 100 seats,” up from “about 70” currently. He said they plan on serving dinner only, six nights a week, and perhaps adding a late-night menu.
Mr. Murphy said he’ll retain the basic Craft on 9 menu, but that he expects to buy more fresh fish and steaks, knowing he’ll do a higher volume to sell it more quickly.
Mr. Murphy and his father Jeramie are doing to the restaurant space what Mr. Patten is doing to the rest of the building — a complete gut and rebuild. While it will occupy the same footprint as the former Mikado (which moved a block north on Glen Street), “you will not recognize it,” promises Jeramie Murphy.
It will have “multi-level seating,” said Rob Murphy. “It’s gonna be the hot spot for reservations.” He said, “we’re planning on doing an open kitchen” behind a glass window, eight or nine feet long.
Also, he said, “we’re going all-in on our front lounge area. It’s gonna be divided from the dining room — more for the bar crowd.” Seating will be “a lot more high tops…with a fireplace, coffee tables and chairs.” He said they aim to make the lounge a destination in itself — “a place to just get a drink, but not a bar” — emphasizing craft beers, wine and mixed drinks, as they do currently.
“I do plan on having a bit of live music,” Mr. Murphy adds.
The decor will have “the same industrial kind of feel” as the current Craft on 9, which the Murphys also outfitted themselves.
Mr. Murphy says, “Being at the corner of South and Glen Streets is going to be a unique location,” especially attractive “once the whole South Street thing gets ramped up.”
Can there be too many dinner restaurants in downtown Glens Falls? “That’s one of the questions everybody asks me,” says Rob Murphy. He calls it a non-issue, saying, “How may times do you start driving to Saratoga not knowing where you’re gonna eat but you’ll find something good?”
He is also unfazed by some restaurant turnover in Glens Falls. “The good ones stay,” he said. “I think it’s the product, the music, the vibe, everything” that makes a restaurant succeed.
Mr. Murphy says he’s been doing “80 to 100 dinners” on a busy night. In the new space, “I think an excellent night would be 150 or 160.”
He said he has five full-time and two part-time employees. He said he expects to add one or two more. His parents note that Rob’s three younger brothers have pitched in as needed, especially washing dishes.
“We are very sorry to be leaving South Glens Falls,” added Maria Murphy. “South Glens Falls is our home. That’s where Rob wanted to be. He is so appreciative of the support the town gave him from day one.”
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