By Maureen Werther
Residents who have lived in Saratoga Springs since the mid-1970s will remember that, before it was Cantina or Professor Moriarty’s, the restaurant located at 430 Broadway was Lillian’s.
It opened in 1974 and was named after the famous actress, Lillian Russell, a famous actress and singer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who made frequent trips to the Spa City during the heyday of her career.
So, it is something of an “organic evolution,” said Cantina owner Jeff Ames, that the very popular Cantina will once again open for business at Lillian’s Restaurant—this time, at its last and longest-occupied location at 408 Broadway.
Lillian’s owner Ray Morris closed the restaurant in December 2015, after selling it to Dan Pickett, CEO of nfrastructure and his wife, Jennifer. The building remained closed following the transaction.
“If it had been any other space that was available, I may not have done it,” said Ames, referring to the deal that closed in November. “I’ve leased Cantina for 10 years and it’s been a great business.”
Ames said the Lillian’s property will lend itself well to his plans for the new Cantina. While the interior first floor space is not significantly larger than the current Cantina space, Ames said that there is a lot more storage space in the basement and a second floor.
Ames will utilize the second floor as a dining space for large parties and private groups. It provides an additional 2,700 square feet. Future plans call for a roof-top dining area.
Ames is hoping to re-open Cantina by May. In the interim, Cantina at 430 Broadway will remain open for business. He has already gotten through the design review process with the city, something he called the “biggest hurdle.” Once the closing takes place, he can concentrate on putting his plans into action.
He is working with Syvertsen Rigosu Architects PLLC of Clifton Park and Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs for the renovations and remodeling.
Part of the plan includes adding French doors to both the first and second floor facades, as well as adding additional windows on the north side of the building. Ames said it will have a “very bistro feel” to it, adding that it will be a “much cooler place.”