When John Bove decided to open a restaurant in Malta in the early 1980s, theme restaurants were all the rage. So he looked for a concept around which he could build his place.
He toyed with the idea of a Marilyn Monroe-themed restaurant, but decided he'd need a Victorian house to make that work. John Wayne intrigued him, but the restaurant would have to look like a depot.
Bove's building looked more like an old roadhouse -- the kind of place where Frank Sinatra made his name. So that, Bove decided, would be the focus of his restaurant, and the My Way Cafe was born.
The concept has been a hit the My Way Cafe is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. And while Bove stressed that a theme restaurant is nothing without good food, the Sinatra angle certainly has its appeal. The restaurant has monthly Sinatra tribute nights, including two shows planned for Father's Day, that have been steady draws in the 15 years Bove has been offering them. The Father's Day shows always bring a packed house.
You usually get your dad a lawn mower or a fishing rod or a tie," said Bove, a father three times over himself. "This is something different. It's something he'll remember."
The restaurant's silver anniversary isn't the only career milestone Bove is celebrating this year. It's been 50 years since he first got his start in the restaurant business. Long before he was hanging pictures of Sinatra on the walls of his restaurant at routes 9 and 67, he ran Roma Pizzeria in Cohoes. Then he moved to Clifton Park, expanded and upgraded, running The Roma where Ravenswood is now located.
Bove's parents are Italian immigrants, and they too were restaurant owners. His mom was the namesake of Mary's in Troy, where Bove honed his cooking skills. He also learned about the trade by reading lots of books.