Next at former Sutton’s

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

After two years of repairs and renovation, Mario DiSiena says, “We’re ready to go” with his restaurant on Route 9 where most recently Farmstead Flatbread operated at the former Sutton’s Market Place.

Mario DiSiena sets ‘Uncle Mario’s Garage,’ restaurant next door to his ‘Furniture House’ store
The 174-seat “Uncle Mario’s Garage” is on the agendas next week of the Queensbury Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

Mr. DiSiena said he grew up next to his family’s now-defunct DiSiena Furniture in Mechanicville. He owns The Furniture House, which he operates next-door in the building he bought from Donna Sutton in 2012. It also has a store at Saratoga Lake.

“When Sutton family members closed Farmstead Flatbread we had the right of first refusal,” Mr. DiSiena said. “We needed to buy it to secure our investment in the furniture store.”

“Everyone that lives up here understood Sutton’s to be a cornerstone in the community. We respect that,” Mr. DiSiena said during a building walk-through. “We understand how important it was. And we’re going to bring it back to life.”

Mr. DiSiena has never run a restaurant but says, “I’m not worried. I’ve been in retail all my life. It’s a question of having a vision and getting the people proper in the position. And I like people.”

“The most important thing is creativity and quality,” he says. “When this hits the ground, it’s going to be like a rocket ship taking off. We honestly believe the combination of quality food and fair prices in the atmosphere…

“This is going to be fun. We’re gonna do entertainment on weekends. It isn’t going to be a rowdy place. This is going to be an upscale place where you can bring your family and friends.”

The menu will resemble Farmstead: Wood-fired pizzas, wings, salads “and more,” Mr. DiSiena says, with price points “in keeping with other places.”

A Route 9 billboard touts the venture. Mario DiSiena has never run a restaurant ‘but I’ve been in retail all my life.’ Chronicle photos/Cathy DeDe
“Eventually we’ll be doing breakfast. But we have to get the staff in place to do that.” He said he has a chef and staff lined up for as soon as they open. He said he’ll need to hire more help, but “they’re gonna want to come here. It’s fun.”

Mr. DiSiena says the liquor license is ready. “All we need to do is submit what we’re doing, and they’ll issue it,” he says.

Mr. DiSiena is a car buff, thus the decor. Car-body sculptures protrude from interior and exterior walls. (He says his personal collection includes “two phenomenal antique trucks,” a 1939 Ford, a ’57 “Caddie” in power blue with white interior, a C8 Corvette and others)

Miniature model train scenes are embedded in resin valleys set into the restaurant’s three new burl wood bars.

Tabletops are hand finished wood slabs with custom epoxy features and hidden built-in surprises, like a beehive in the clear panel of a cherry wood door.
The metal door to the pizza oven was a gift from a friend. The previously plain concrete exterior is now encrusted with small river stones and sheathed in slate slabs from the former restaurant entry.

“This is three-dimensional art, in this building,” Mr. DiSiena says.

Upstairs will be a retail gift shop on one side and mini furniture display on the other, showcasing the Furniture House’s mix of Amish-made and “quality imported products,” he says.

Everything on the restaurant floor, “it’s for sale,” not to grab and go, but “you like the chairs, we’ll order them for you.”

Why the two-year renovation? “No one would have understood until you started getting into it, the necessary repairs…” Mr. DiSiena said. “The roof, the sprinklers, every aspect of this building needed to be repaired.

“Everything was dated. We removed the popcorn ceiling, track lighting, re-taped it and now that’s beautiful Sheetrock with recessed lighting. We sanded the floors, so it’s all improvements.”

They added an elevator and new bathrooms. In the bar they removed unsupported upright columns and added a steel beam header to open up the room.
Mr. DiSiena said, beyond “my own people,” who’ve done much of the work, local sub-contractors include Comfort Mechanics, Jim’s Glass, and Daigle Contractors, which poured the new patio. O’Leary Overhead Doors did the garage doors that will open up in warmer months.

He said he expects the town approval process to go smoothly.

“The issues that we’re addressing are essentially minor changes or improvements that the town just wants to understand,” such as re-planting shrubs, changing the exterior from brown to white, “notifying the neighbors that the property is returning to what it was.”

They do need a variance, he says, for the new roof on the outdoor service area that extends beyond the prescribed setback.

“The repairs and improvements we had to make bring it up” to existing codes, Mr. DiSiena said.

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