Matt Baumgartner, who owned Noche from December 2005 to spring 2007 and also owns Bombers Burrito Bar on Albany’s Lark Street, tells me it will be a traditional beer-garden space with communal seating, 50 German and Belgian beers and a rustic sausages-and-schnitzels menu. Instead of table service, customers will order and pick up food from an open kitchen, equipped with grills for the sausages. Renovations are set to begin next month to turn what was once an upscale, swanky club into a comfortable, casual restaurant with more wallet-friendly prices. Baumgartner’s partners in Wolff’s Biergarten are James and Demetra Vann, who were partners in Noche; James Vann is also vice president of Bombers.
Baumgartner says the building’s garage door and expansive open space — it was where the fire truck parked — make the location, at 895 Broadway, ideal for creating the sort of convivial beer garden he’s enjoyed in New York City (Radegast Hall & Biergarten, Zum Schneider) and Munich.
“It will be significantly different from Noche — much more casual,” says Baumgartner.
Gone will be Noche’s low leather booths along the building’s south wall and the bright-red, cast-iron spiral staircase going to the building’s second floor. The gorgeous, 32-foot-long walnut bar built for Noche will remain: That’s where the beer taps are. Baumgartner envisions darts and other games, televisions and additional amenities to attract crowds seeking a fun night out or a quick bite. He expects to be open for lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch.
“I want it to be a place where big groups — eight to 10 people or more — go for great beer and sausages, hearty cooking (and) good conversation,” he says.
Baumgartner sold Noche in March 2007 to Jack Valente, whose family has owned Valente’s Restaurant in Watervliet for more than 50 years. Under its new owner the club foundered through the rest of 2007, was renamed Jack Rabbit Slims last December and made a run at becoming a venue for live music. Jack Rabbit Slims closed in May.
When Noche first opened, Baumgartner estimated he and his partners had spent about $500,000 to renovate the space. How much Valente paid for Noche was never publicly released. Baumgartner says the building’s owner approached him about leasing the space again after Jack Rabbit Slims closed.
In addition to investing in businesses in the industrial area around Broadway, about a half-mile north of Clinton Avenue, Baumgartner also lives there, having bought a former factory building and renovated it into two loft residences.
In related news, Baumgartner says he finalized financing earlier this week for the Schenectady version of Bombers. He bought a building on State Street, near the Proctors complex, and plans to begin structural work the week after Thanksgiving. Long delays on the project mean he will be renovating two restaurants simultaneously and trying to open both in the spring.
He says with a laugh, “There will be a lot of driving back and forth.”