By Maureen Werther
Cantina Restaurant recently re-opened at its new location at 408 Broadway, in the building that was formerly the home of Lillian’s Restaurant.
Owner Jeff Ames said he felt the former Lillian’s property would lend itself well to his plans for the new Cantina. If it had been another building, he might not have made the move.
Ames hired the Clifton Park firm of Syvertsen Rigosu Architects PLLC and Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs for the renovation. The building is now is a marked departure from the more traditional style of the former Lillian’s. The façade of the building is completely open, with large glass-paneled doors that can open to the sidewalk during good weather.
The interior of the building has been completely opened up, resulting in one large and airy eating space with tables in the front half and an open bar area and spacious booths in the rear half of the building. The lower ceilings were removed to expose the brick, stone and piping overhead and add to the expansive feel of the space.
The result is a large space that lends itself to Ames’ philosophy that a Mexican restaurant should be a place “where people can come dressed in flip-flops and shorts, or a tuxedo” and enjoy good food and a festive atmosphere.
Ames said the interior first floor space is not significantly larger than the former Cantina space. However, the renovations have created greater seating capacity. Another advantage of the new location is the additional storage space it affords the restaurant, with a basement, in addition to the second floor and a rooftop.
While the second floor is not yet open, when renovations are complete, it will have the same open façade as the first floor and it will serve as a dining space for large parties and private groups. Hosting larger events was an area where Ames has not been competitive in the previous location. Having the additional 2,700 square feet on the second floor will change that.
Ames also has plans down the road for a roof-top venue. However, those are not changes that will be made immediately.
While the menu has remained largely unchanged, some items that were less popular have been removed to make room for a few new additions. The bar continues to offer at least 90 different types of tequila, as well as a full array of spirits and beers, and sangrias. Margaritas continue to be a mainstay of the bar menu.
Since re-opening, the popular Taco Tuesdays has been temporarily suspended while the staff becomes acclimated to its new surroundings and the kinks have been worked out. But the restaurant management said they hope to have it back soon.
Cantina is open daily 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Its website is ww.cantinasaratoga.com.