Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Miller’s Park & Elm near opening

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

Elizabeth and Ben Miller’s latest bold move is nearly complete. The mother and son developers have renovated the building at the corner of Park and Elm Streets, across from their building housing the Park Theater and Doc’s Restaurant.

Doc’s will be rebranded Park & Elm and move into the first floor. Next to it will be a specialty deli and market.

Ben Miller gave tours of Park & Elm during a state arts event in August. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

People “are very enthusiastic about the market and deli side of things,” says Mr. Miller. “As someone who’s lived downtown myself, it’s something that I saw as a big void in the community.”

He said it will have “a full butcher counter with meat cut to order very similar to what you’d see at Jacob and Toney’s up in Warrensburg….

“We’re going to feature produce from our own farm up on Ridge Road — Sunset Farm — as well as other local producers, local dairy, local eggs, that sort of stuff. We’d also like to have a nice little selection of craft beer.

“So, you know, you can get out of work at the hospital, come across the street, grab some veggies, six pack of beer and take home everything you need to make a great meal.”

He added, “If you come to Doc’s, or then [what will be called] Park & Elm, you have a great steak, you can get that same steak cut to order to pick up and grill yourself.”

Matthew J. Delos, the executive chef at Doc’s, will have the same role at Park & Elm. Doc’s current space below the Park Theater will be used for special events.

Mr. Miller said they’ve developed “a real demand for catering and events in the Park Theater building,” necessitating this expansion.

Park & Elm — view through roof, artist rendering. Image provided

He said that in the adaptable first-floor Park Theater space, “at the moment, anytime we have a wedding of more than 50 people, we’ve got to close the restaurant [downstairs], because the kitchen can’t support both at the same time.”

Park & Elm’s restaurants plus a catering operation, Park Street Hospitality, will share the large kitchen that runs much of the length of the newly renovated Park & Elm building.

Mr. Miller said the kitchen in the Park Theater building will continue to be used during events, but prep work can also happen in the Park & Elm kitchen.

Park & Elm’s larger patio, with roof

Park & Elm will have a larger patio than Doc’s and a roof over it.

Right now they’re “at the mercy of the rain and the weather over at Doc’s,” said Mr. Miller. “We’re putting a roof over this patio with four really big 8’ by 10’ skylights…to still let in all that natural light.”

It will also have installed electric heaters. “We really want it to be a true three-season space,” said Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller said the new restaurant will seat 145 — 85 inside, 60 on the patio.

The deli will have counter seating for around 16 people, with plans to add 20 more “cafe style” seats outside.

Mr. Miller expects the deli and market to be open until 8 or 9 p.m. and include “basic groceries, even things as simple as paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, that sort of thing.”

But the main thrust is “a continental market and deli vibe,” with meats, cheeses and sandwiches to order, and fast casual breakfast and lunch service.

Ben: Bagpipes to buildings

This is the first project that Mr. Miller has led. He returned to the area in 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, he played bagpipes as the member of a touring band, Miller-MacDonald-Cormier. “Our last show was actually at the Park Theater for St. Patrick’s Day, right before COVID shut us down,” he said.

He learned to play from the late plastic surgeon Dr. Harold Kirkpatrick, previous owner of the Park Theater, for whom Doc’s restaurant is named.

“I did the music thing for the better part of 10 years, I did a lot of touring,” Mr. Miller said. “But I also did a master’s degree and started a PhD. And I wrote for a music magazine in Scotland for about five years,” where he also lived.

He spent another five years in Nova Scotia before moving back home for good.

He hasn’t played professionally since. “I still play at home whenever I can, which isn’t very often…Managing the restaurant and the construction project takes a lot of time,” he said.

Does he miss it? “I do and I don’t.

“Running that business wasn’t worlds apart from running the business I am now. There’s a lot more people that I’m managing now than then, but it’s all of the same things.

“It’s logistics, it’s accounting, it’s payroll, it’s marketing…I always tell people it [his music business] was 25% playing an instrument and 75% business management.”

Park & Elm’s 2nd & 3rd floor apartments

One- and two-bedroom apartments will be rented on the second and third floors of the Park & Elm building.

Ben Miller will have his own apartment with private rooftop access.

“Our smallest apartment is around 700 square foot, our largest one is about 1,950 and across that range of one and two bedrooms. 

“We’re going from about $1300 a month to about $1900 a month.”

“We really are trying to put quality first,” Mr. Miller said. “There’s a lot of great apartments in Glens Falls, but we really wanted to focus on giving people a great bang for their buck there.

“All the apartments have custom tile showers with Delta fixtures…custom quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances.”

Working with Cifone Construction

Mr. Miller said that on the Park Theater renovation, “I was involved in a peripheral way in the planning phase, especially in the theater end,” because of his background.

He said on the hospitality side, “I just fell into that and learned as I went.”

“My mother has got a lot of irons in the fire, she’s got Miller Mechanical, she’s got Doty Machine Works…So she is involved peripherally” in the Park and Elm project, Mr. Miller said.

“We work very closely together on the big-picture decisions, the aesthetics, all of that, but as far as the day to day grind…I’m working very closely with Matt Cifone.”

Cifone Construction of Glens Falls has been the builder on both the Park Theater project and now Park and Elm.

He “is a phenomenal contractor,” Mr. Miller said. “He’s mostly known for building luxury homes on Lake George.”

Mr. Miller said the restaurant’s interior will be “a little more modern than Doc’s.”

“We always like to try to capture the essence of the building that we’re in,” he said. “The Park was such a historic building. And my mother really wanted to capture that vibe in both the theater space and the restaurant.”

This building, on the other hand, “was a very industrial space, a lot of brick, a lot of raw metal. We wanted to enmesh that with the fine dining idea as well.”

“We’ve got a great custom…quartz, sort of marble, bar top.” Plus, “stainless steel fixtures in there. Some oil rubbed bronze on the lighting and the window frames.”

“We’re very informally saying early fall” for project completion, Mr. Miller said. “The entire construction process has been so challenging with COVID, aside from materials, workforce, all of that.”

The biggest holdup “is the elevator addition that we’re building on the outside right now, that needs to be completed for our egress plan.”

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