KINGSBURY ♦ Restaurateurs Scott and Jamie Beale are finding new ways to scare up business.
As owners of the Gavel Grille, the Beales are playing off the building’s rich history, including its alleged paranormal activities, to attract diners to the former courthouse in the heart of Hudson Falls.
“We do tours every night. Everybody loves this building,” Scott said. “Every single night, we have people – whether they are 18 or 75 – who want to go downstairs into one of the jail cells.”
Since opening in February, the Beales have looked for clever ways to take advantage of the site’s unusual features, including converting the basement jail into a wine-tasting venue called “The Cell-ar.” The revamped antique cells served as backdrop for a recent “50 Shades of Grey” party, which was inspired by the best-selling series of books.
“We had 150 women attend. It was amazing,” Scott said.
The old jail cells also have been used for a number of private functions, including bachelorette parties, tarot card readings and a pirate-themed event.
“Where do you find a venue like this anywhere?” Scott said, swinging a heavy cell door shut.
The Beales, who formerly owned the Grey Gelding Bistro in Saratoga Springs, have found that attracting food lovers to Hudson Falls can be a challenge. Although they see some of their old customers from the Spa City at the restaurant on a regular basis, they are looking for ways to bring in new clientele from Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.
“There’s so much character to this building,” Jamie said, pointing out the tiger-striped oak molding around the doors and windows.
The Beales have restored the space to highlight its original charm, while converting the former 1870s courthouse into a fine dining venue with a casual vibe.
The rotating menu features fresh local ingredients, handmade pasta and items usually seen at big city eateries, like Kobe beef burgers. The restaurant also features one of the largest and diverse selections of wine in the area.
“We are so under the radar,” Scott said.
Although foodies are just starting to discover the location, the site already is a hot spot for paranormal investigators.
“A ghost hunter group from South Glens Falls came and did a full lockdown,” Scott said. “And we’ve seen a lot of crazy things ourselves in this building.”
From mysterious “orbs” floating overhead in photographs to slamming doors and footsteps, the restaurant staff and guests have witnessed a number of unexplained phenomena since the Beales opened.
“We have a ghost we call Walter,” Jamie said. “All of the staff has had an experience with him – but it’s nothing scary.”
Jamie herself once saw a man standing at the end of the bar, but when she turned the corner to greet him, he had disappeared.
The Beales have decided to celebrate the building’s otherworldly connections with a number of events throughout the month.
Guests can attend ghost hunter investigations of the building, with the South Glens Falls Paranormal Society, on Oct. 8, 20 and 29. Two of the evenings will be accompanied with a dinner.
The restaurant will take over the former courtroom for a comedy hypnosis show with Brian Eslick on Thursday, and the entire building will be the site of a Halloween bash on Oct. 31.
“Nobody does stuff like this upstate,” Scott said. “For the month of October, we really want to rock it.”