Celebration held for Ama Cocina re-opening in Downtown
ALBANY: A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today, October 20, 2023, celebrating the re-opening of Ama Cocina at 4 Sheridan Avenue in downtown Albany. Joining BMT Hospitality owners Brian Viglucci, Mike Viglucci and Tony Luonello, Ama Cocina Managing Partner Tisean Daniels, and Downtown Albany Business Improvement District Executive Director Georgette Steffens were Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, and Counsel to the Albany County Executive Jeffery Jamison.
The restaurant known for its vibrant décor, flavorful Mexican street food, and expansive tequila offerings has experienced some upgrades since COVID-19 forced its closure in December 2020. Most notably, changes include an updated menu, new artwork, the addition of “The Agave Room,” a semi-private area fitted with a projector, which can be used for meetings or events, as well as a spot decorated with a neon sign, plants, and art, perfect for selfies and photos, and the addition of a new Managing Partner with seasoned restaurateur Tisean Daniels.
Albany-based BMT Hospitality, which originally opened the restaurant in 2015, knew they were going to re-open the popular eatery, but a timeline remained elusive as pandemic restrictions stopped or limited both events and employees’ return to the office. It was in the Spring of 2023 that plans for welcoming guests again began to take shape, as the number of workers in Downtown began approaching pre-pandemic levels and Downtown events were exceeding pre-COVID numbers, with BMT thrilled to throw open the restaurant’s signature large garage door in August for the first time in nearly three years.
Daniels moved to the Capital Region in 2020 from New York City, where he had worked in a wide range of bars, clubs and restaurants. Notably, he managed Nur in Manhattan, known for leading a wave of Middle Eastern restaurants in the City. Daniels worked as general manager of BMT-owned The Point Italian Kitchen and Cocktails for one year until its closure last New Year’s Eve. Impressed with his work at The Point, BMT knew he was the right person to bring Ama back to life.
Daniels says he wanted to avoid repetitive, deconstructed menu items seen at other modern Mexican restaurants. The new menu instead focuses on shareables like street tacos, guacamole, and empanadas, and also offers quesadillas, bowls, and knife-and-fork style burritos. Favorites include the queso fundido, loaded with pinto beans, crumbled chorizo, Oaxaca cheese and pico de gallo; street corn dressed with lime aioli, cotija cheese and chili dust; and Daniels’ personal favorite, spicy shrimp tacos simply topped with fresh cut onions and cilantro The full bar offers an impressive selectin of tequilas and mezcals, and Daniels says curated flights of agave-based spirits are in the works. Specialty cocktails include a Pisco and Pear Sour, a Cold Brew Martini made with tequila, and of course, several variations of margaritas.
Reservations for Ama Cocina can be made on OpenTable, and the space is available for private parties and events. Daniels plans to host DJs at Ama, and in the future, live music.
Downtown Albany BID Executive Director Georgette Steffens said: “It was this time in November 2015 that we first welcomed Ama Cocina, and we are thrilled to be here today to celebrate BMT’s commitment to Downtown. Across the country it has been a rough road emerging from the pandemic, but our District is moving forward thanks to our growing residential, event numbers that exceed pre-COVID numbers with Albany County recently announcing record-breaking operating profit at the MVP Arena, and 93 percent of Downtown employees having returned to the office. As the heart of the Capital City, Downtown is Albany to the Core, thanks in large part to the business owners including Brian, Mike, and Tony, who strengthen the fabric of our neighborhood thanks to their time, dedication, and investment.”
Ama Cocina is located at 4 Sheridan Avenue and open Tuesday-Thursday 4:00 PM-9:00 PM and Friday & Saturday 4:00 PM-10:00 PM. For more information, visit amacocina.com or follow the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.