By Liz Witbeck
Saratoga Springs has many iconic establishments, from the race course to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The restaurants downtown are also well known by locals and tourists alike. Perhaps one of the most beloved is Gaffney’s, a restaurant and bar at 16 Caroline Street.
The establishment is now under new ownership, with a new menu after longtime owner John Baker sold the business recently.
The business was purchased by Saratoga Hospitality. The company also owns Max London’s Restaurant, Mrs. London’s Bakery and Café, and the Saratoga Stadium, all in Saratoga Springs.
Saratoga Hospitality officially took over in late January 2017.
Zach Cutler is corporate executive chef, working with each of the Saratoga Hospitality locations. He is excited for the transition of ownership and has been hard at work crafting a new vision for the dining experience at Gaffney’s. Cutler is confident his team will continue to make the Gaffney’s brand proud, and build on what has already been established.
“He wanted to make sure it went into the right hands,” Cutler said of Baker. “It’s a Saratoga staple. It’s a place that resonates around the country and around the world. It’s a brand that John built and that we want to build upon.”
One of the most noticeable changes that guests will see when they come to Gaffney’s is that the menu is entirely new. One of the items that remains from the previous menu is Chef Kevin’s Famous Chowder, a blend of shrimp, crab, bacon and chives. The dish, available in cups or bowls, was created by Kevin Myers, who has been executive chef at Gaffney’s for 21 years and still works there. Customers can still get chicken wings as well.
Cutler said the menu is inspired by Irish pub food. Some of the new additions are reuben egg rolls, an Irish cheese board, beef short rib shepard’s pie, fish and chips and bangers and mash.
There is a range of soups and salads, and well as a variety of house-made burgers, which are big sellers, according to Cutler. The kitchen also makes sandwiches, like an open-face reuben. One of Cutler’s favorites is the open-faced turkey sandwich.
“We want to be the place that people come to for dinner, because we’ve always been the place that people come for drinks” said Cutler.
Cutler and his team are excited to share the new menu with guests. Having a seasoned and knowledgeable staff is important.
“John has a great staff,” said Cutler. “We’re really fortunate, most people decided to stay with us. About 95 percent of our staff were retained after the switch. People who know what they are doing really helps us out.”
Gaffney’s still remains a popular place to come get drinks with friends. The restaurant has several bars to choose from. The upstairs features the Whiskey Bar & Tap Room, where guests can enjoy a classy, old-fashioned atmosphere, complete with craft beers and hip drinks. Some cocktails featured include the Manhattan, old fashioned, Tom Collins and Celtic mule, a nod to the Irish theme of the bar.
The downstairs offers a casual bar environment where guests can enjoy draft beers and other drinks. Drink specials include the Gaffney’s sweet tea, emerald kiss, and cranberry cosmopolitan. Adjacent to that bar is a dining area that is lined with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be opened in the summer and seats several dozen people comfortably.
More renovations will come in the upcoming months, said Cutler. There are plans to utilize the outdoor courtyard garden area during the summer. Cutler said he believes Gaffney’s has the nicest dining room in all of Saratoga.
Live music is popular at the venue and several bands are already lined up to play this summer.
Gaffney’s offers specials throughout the week. Monday through Friday, guests can enjoy happy hour with half-price items from 4-7 p.m. On Tuesdays, the venue offers half-price drafts. On Wednesdays, guests can buy a beer and receive a free burger. Cutler hopes the specials encourage people to come in and try out the new menu.
“We want people to come in and enjoy the great food experience and enjoy the new vibe,” he said.
Gaffney’s is open at 11 a.m. to close for drinks, Tuesday through Sunday. Dinner is served until 10 p.m. on weekdays. The Whiskey Bar & Tap Room opens at 3 p.m. until close. The restaurant is closed on Mondays for the time being.
For more information, call 587-7359 or visit www.gaffneysrestaurant.com.