Albany Restauranteurs Expand Footprint into Downtown Albany

Albany Restauranteurs Expand Footprint into Downtown Albany


November 2, 2015

ALBANY, NY… The City of Albany and the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) held a grand opening and ribbon cutting for Ama Cocina (Co-Scene-Ah) to 4-6 Sheridan Avenue on November 2, 2015. BM&T Restaurant Group (BM&T) owners Brian Viglucci, Michael Viglucci Jr., Tony Lounello and Ama Cocina general manager Jessica Evans were joined by Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Downtown Albany BID executive director Georgette Steffens, and Sarah Reginelli, Capitalize Albany Corporation president and CEO of the City of Albany Industrial Development Agency, in officially welcoming the modern Mexican eatery. BM&T, which owns The Point, Café Madison, Juniors, and The Beer Belly among others, celebrated their eighth restaurant in Albany and first within the Downtown Albany BID footprint. 

Expanding into Downtown was a natural progression for the three owners, who were each born and raised in Albany. Believing that restaurants are an integral part of any neighborhood, they began operating eateries in their hometown to help develop and deepen its strong sense of community.

 “As we continue to grow our Downtown neighborhood we are creating opportunities for new businesses like Ama Cocina to provide great food for our new residents as well as the thousands of visitors who come to Albany to work and play," said Mayor Sheehan. "We welcome them to the neighborhood and wish them great success."

Saying the key to success was to bring a unique concept to the existing diversity of businesses and rise of residential, BM&T envisioned a Mexican street food restaurant and determined Downtown was the place to make it happen. Opening this past August, the proprietors invested 14 months and an estimated $700,000 to transform the 4,500-square-foot space into the ambiance envisioned by manager Jessica Evans. Local artists were brought in to partner on many design elements including a hand-painted mural, a corrugated metal wall, and bar tables. The result is what owners call a “funky” environment full of life, food, laughter, and love.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ama Cocina to our District,” said Steffens. “With a history of operating high-quality eateries appealing to a wide range of customers, Brian, Michael, and Tony are among a growing list of business owners who are quickly seeing the benefits of expanding into the City’s fastest growing neighborhood. Today, there are hundreds of occupied residential units within walking distance, and over 20,000 daytime employees in Downtown. Pair those with the Albany Capital Center slated to open in just over a year, the unique menu and atmosphere adds a wonderful new component to our community.”

To create a consistent theme both inside and out of the restaurant, renovations for the restaurant were not limited to the interior. The exterior wall was replaced with a functioning garage door to create an open air experience and a seamless transition to the patio space, a change for which both the Downtown Albany BID and Capitalize Albany Corporation advocated.
 
Formerly a multi-level brewery and restaurant, the building at 4-6 Sheridan Avenue was vacant for two years prior to reopening in 2012 as multifamily apartments with retail space on the ground floor. Its $1.75 million conversion was made possible through assistance provided by the City of Albany Industrial Development Agency. Ama Cocina occupies the commercial space on the building’s first floor and the property now features 13 new, fully-occupied market-rate apartments on the building’s upper floors which enhance the strong mix of Downtown living options. 

“This building’s repurposing and revitalization was important as part of Downtown’s residential initiative. The new addition of Ama Cocina has also added directly to the local economy, creating more than 60 jobs counting construction, new restaurant management and staff,” said Reginelli. “We’re seeing the impact of Downtown’s growing residential population as more unique restaurants like Ama Cocina open and the Downtown dining experience continues to be elevated.”

Serving modern Mexican street fare, menu options include crispy avocado fritas, cola braised beef short rib, smoked chicken tortilla soup, jalapeno cornbread & chorizo stuffed pork chop, and margarita pie; the full bar includes over 80 tequilas from 35 brands, making it the largest selection in the Capital Region according to Evans. Full menu details can be viewed online.

“We really wanted to bring a whole new culinary concept to the evolving landscape of downtown Albany,” said Brian Viglucci. “The reaction we’ve had to Ama has been incredible, thanks in large part to our general manager, Jessica, who brought to fruition an environment unlike any other you’ll find in Downtown, let alone the area. We look forward to continuing to introduce the region’s residents and visitors to our spectacular space, food, drinks, and staff.”

Ama Cocina is located at 4-6 Sheridan Avenue. Open 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM Monday to Saturday. For more information, call 518.776.4550 or visit amacocina.com.

From international corporations, regional giants and locally owned proprietors, downtown Albany is more than business as usual. Accented by the powerful currents of the Hudson River to the motivating forces in the State Capitol, downtown Albany stands in good company with some of the greatest names in business today. Over 250 companies call downtown Albany home and signs like IBM, Microsoft and Windstream are seen throughout our historic streets. Since 1996, the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) has worked to restore, promote and maintain the character and vitality and improve the quality of life and overall image of Downtown for those who work in, live in and visit the  Capital City of the most famous state in the world. The Downtown Albany BID is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information about the Downtown Albany BID please visit downtownalbany.org | @AlbanyBID or call 518.465.2143.