QUEENSBURY ♦ Diners can now see Jack’s American Bistro in a whole new light.
The popular restaurant, which celebrates its eighth anniversary in June, recently added 360 square feet to its dining room. Although the expansion is small, the addition of a front door and windows on Glen Street already is making a big impact.
“Without the windows before, it was like a speakeasy,” said David Gates, who co-owns the restaurant with his parents, Jack and Diane Gates, and brother, Christian Gates. “The biggest challenge has been getting people in here.”
Although the restaurant’s side entrance proved to be a challenge to attracting new customers, David has found that people who walk in the door often become regulars.
“We have such good repeat business. A lot of our customers eat here once a week,” he said.
For Jack, who worked for years as manager of the Red Coach Grill and the Coachman Restaurant, offering a diverse menu made good business sense.
“French, Italian and American — it’s a mixture,” Jack said. “But we’re also trying to stay modern.”
Pleasing diners is a balancing act, and the Gates have learned how to adapt the menu to fit their customers.
The most popular dish is probably our baked haddock, but on some nights, liver is our best seller,” Jack said. “We also sell a nice share of steaks.”
According to Christian, who serves as executive chef, the Caprese salad is one of the best-sellers. Other starters include a roasted beet salad, a wedge salad with applewood bacon, arancini (breaded, deep-fried stuffed risotto balls with marinara sauce), Margherita flatbread, escargots and Maryland crab cakes.
Chicken entrees include Parmagiana, Cristobal and Piccata.
Sicilian pork chops, braised short ribs and veal Oscar also are popular menu items, and seafood choices include sesame-encrusted tuna, sear-roasted salmon, grilled sea scallops and linguini and clams.
Several entrees are available as half plates, which gives diners a chance to sample a larger variety of dishes.
Although the restaurant rotates menu items to keep the offerings fresh, old favorites often get requests if they disappear.
“If you take something off, people complain,” Jack said with a laugh.
The restaurateurs like the establishment’s cozy environment.
Although business increases in the summer, the clientele remains consistent, according to David.
“It’s extremely local,” he said.
Many customers feel like family friends for the owners.
“You can come here on a Saturday night, and there will be 14 tables of people — and of those, 14 probably know each other,” Jack said.
David is optimistic about the months ahead.
“This will be the summer you can actually look in the building,” he said.
Jack is hopeful that the new windows will give people driving by a chance to see what regular customers have known for years.
“It’s all about good food, good service, a friendly atmosphere and a comfortable place,” he said.