Cutting the ribbon at the latest Lark Street venture. (L-R) Bar manager George Fiorini; Owners Dan Atkins & Jason Pierce; Assemblywoman Pat Fahy; Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; Assemblyman John McDonald; County Executive Dan McCoy; & County Legislator Chris Higgins. Ali Hibbs/Spotlight
ALBANY — Co-owners Jason Pierce and Daniel Atkins say that the combination of hand crafted classic cocktails and modern beverages, innovative multicultural cuisine and live entertainment they are offering is meant to compliment “the vibrant musical, artistic and cultural spirit of Lark Street,” while re-energizing a well-loved, yet commercially foundering, neighborhood.
“It’s about revolution through evolution,” said Pierce. “It’s about bringing to Lark Street a new and updated vibe, energy, and atmosphere that’s been absent. The name Savoy Taproom wasn’t chosen simply because of its connection to the property or to jazz music itself; we chose it because it represents an attitude, an idea and a passion.”
The name, say the owners, is meant to invoke the ‘Roaring Twenties,’ when jazz music was sweeping the nation and legendary venues such as the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago had become the premiere destinations for the young and hip to see Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Count Basie. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that the owners believe 301 Lark Street bore the name Savoy Taproom, a discovery they made when researching old photographs of the property. The basement bar was re-dubbed Justin’s in the ‘50s.
“To continue the revitalization of Lark Street is something that’s very important to us,” said Chef Andy Espinola, a previous Rising Star Chef nominee who is consulting with Pierce and Atkins on their new endeavor. “And in a location that has so much history is very exciting. We want to see Center Square, and Albany as a whole, thrive because it’s where we live and work. Being able to contribute to that through this project is a best case scenario for me, personally. We’re passionate about food, service, and our home. Having the opportunity to do what we love where we live is a dream come true.”
“The bar at Savoy will look to expertly cater to, not only the connoisseur of fine spirits and cocktails, but those just beginning to explore the world of craft cocktails and locally-sourced beverages,” said Savoy’s bar manager, George Fiorini, who was featured in The Spot 518 after he won the Woodford Reserve bartending competition as part of the 2016 Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts in January. “We want the experience to be approachable to all, no matter if you are joining us for a drink after work, a night on the town, or visiting Lark Street – maybe for the first time.”
Each owner brings his own unique experience to the Lark Street venue.
For six years, Jason Pierce was owner and president at ASE Metal Recovery, Inc., a regional refiner of gold, silver and platinum in upstate New York. Prior to ASE, he has served in executive capacities in the publishing and marketing industries in the Capital District. He says, however, that he has decided to make this new venture his primary focus.
Dan Atkins is currently general manager of Oh Bar and Fuze Box in Albany, and serves as vice chairman of the Lark Street Business Improvement District’s Board of Directors. He has worked for the Mallozzi Group as both a general manager and floor manager, and his family has owned and operated a luncheonette in the Catskills for more than 15 years.
Savoy Taproom seats about 30 patrons in the front room’s bar area, and the dining room, which features a mixture of table and booth seating, seats 40-60. The bar and restaurant will be open seven days a week, from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Wednesday, and until 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. According to Pierce, a brunch menu will be released in the coming weeks.