By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer
New Way Lunch is back.
After 34 months — nearly three years — the Gazetos family has reopened on South Street in downtown Glens Falls where the 103-year-old hot dog biz began.
“This is huge. Huge for Glens Falls too,” said Nick Gazetos, the fourth generation family member who is going to manage the South Street location, which has undergone substantial renovation.
Nick, his sister Ali Gazetos Mineo and their parents Peter and Susan Gazetos are all active in the business.
Even as the South Street New Way was closed since 2020, New Way continued its Queensbury and Warrensburg restaurants.
South Street’s extensive renovation added a covered outdoor patio that will seat around 16 when the weather warms; re-stained wooden booths; and a new light blue color theme on on the interior walls.
Peter says the color is to honor their Greek heritage.
Ali said she chose it to give off a retro vibe.
“I guess you get to pick what you want to put,” she joked to The Chronicle.
The bathrooms were painted red, an homage to the original New Way up the street.
That bathroom “was like a hole and it was tiny…the ceiling was red. Everything was red. The floor — it was like a cave of just like bright red,” Ali said.
They say it was a conscious choice to make drunk people uncomfortable.
“No one wanted to stay in there. In and out,” Peter laughed.
The South Street renovation replaced the fabric awnings with metal; and out back, added an office and a walk-in freezer. Previously, they said, they sometimes turned down deliveries for lack of space.
They’re going back to all bottled soda, too, including glass bottles of Boylan’s classic flavors. It’s easier on the staff, they say, plus it’s difficult to re-order the same paper products consistently.
One thing that hasn’t changed is New Way’s “old school” style of handling orders. They’re announced verbally, instead of processed through a digital POS (Point of Sale) system most restaurants now use.
“It’s to keep the integrity of our old-school nature — everything yelled,” Ali said. “You come in here, you feel like you’re part of something that you don’t normally see.”
“‘I have four on two and a small fry,’” Peter samples. “You know, the verbalization of the orders, which is part of our legacy, our heritage, and people expect it.”
“It’s almost like you get lunch and a show, if it’s really busy,” Ali said. “Everyone yelling…I have customers all the time. They’re like, how do you guys even get the food to the right spot?”
They did add point of sale automation to the Queensbury drive-through.
The Covid pandemic was “the hardest years we’ve ever been through,” Ali said.
“It’s not about just the cost of doing business, it becomes survival. You want to survive,” Peter said.
Now, they’re optimistic. “We’re all about keeping New Way going. And we adapt with the market,” Peter said.
“It’s keeping the balance of adapting to the market, but also keeping your history,” Ali added. “You have to have both really to survive.”
As for the hours on South Street, Ali said, “We’re going to be open this week 10 to 6 Wednesday and Thursday, and then 10 to 8 on Friday…Then we’re just gonna slowly start adding on.”
Peter said, “Your staff becomes more comfortable, better trained, and then things will expand.”
The family says it takes three employees to run the South Street location, fewer than their other shops.
Staffing is one of the Gazetos’ biggest challenges moving forward, though they say they do have applicants lined up.
Meanwhile, they said sales of bottled New Way meat sauce have gone well, especially over the holidays.
They say more initiatives are coming.
Was there ever a doubt the South Street location would reopen?
At first, Peter said no, never a doubt.
But he admitted that during year-one of the pandemic, “I talked to my paver…I said what do you think about if we raze that building and turn it into a parking lot. How many spaces can I get?”
Why didn’t he do that? “Because I’m the eternal optimist. You reach a low point. We’ve all went through it…You snap out of it and you carry on,” Peter said.
They moved to this spot — a former bus station and diner — in 2006 from their original location up and across the street, which opened in 1919.
Getting a parking lot was “probably the biggest” reason they moved, said Peter.
He said his mother told him “I wouldn’t worry about moving. Wherever you are people will come. They’re gonna come for the hot dogs.” Ali chimes in: “But she did say try to stay loyal to the street. The street has been good to us.”
What do they think about what’s going on around them in Glens Falls?
“I think it’s great,” Peter said. “Now, if you were downtown at Christmas time, the amount of people on the streets, it’s really exciting.”
“There’s a lot more people living downtown, like our generation,” said Ali, who gave birth to her second daughter two months ago. Nick has a daughter as well.
Ali’s husband, Frank Mineo, owns the restaurant Gaslight in Lake George.
Nick touts the South Street New Way’s whole neighborhood — mentioning the restaurants Craft on 9 on the corner and Flight in the Empire Theater building.
“We all kind of have the same jive going on on this end, which is super groovy.”
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