Ravenous Restaurant will celebrate 20 years at 21 Phila St. in downtown Saratoga Springs in October.
The company said a month-long celebration will begin Oct. 1. The restaurant serves dishes like savory crepes and pommes frites and poutine.
Ravenous began on Phila Street when the mother-and-son team of Tina Laino and Francesco D’Amico, along with Francesco’s future wife, Lauren Wickizer, first opened the creperie store doors in 1999. Moving from Seattle and looking for a change and completely new, the trio made the decision to enter the hospitality business full time.
“When we arrived in 1998, there were really just a handful of mom-and-pop restaurants in town,” said Wickizer. “Hattie’s was here. Scallions, Sperry’s, Little India, Chianti’s, Wheatfield’s and Beverly’s, but not much more than that. It was a whole different world. The parking lot across from Ravenous wasn’t even there yet. It was just a small dirt lot.”
The concept for the eatery was described as conceived “out of thin air.” After doing research and visiting a variety of restaurants in Seattle, San Francisco and New York City, “European street food,” was decided upon as the eatery’s theme, the owners said.
At a time when crepes were starting to become popular again on the west coast, they decided to create a creperie called Ravenous.
Once a used record shop called “Probe Records”, the space at 21 Phila St. was purchased and gutted in October 1999. The mural that can be seen on the restaurant wall today was painted in that same year by Laino’s friend, Claudia McNulty.
“Early Ravenous featured crepes included ‘Veggie Cachet’, ‘Taj Mahal’, ‘Left Bank’, and ‘Chicken Bechamel’. They became tried and true favorites that were never taken off the menu because they were such good sellers,” said Wickizer.
David Zuka and business partner Julie Raymond, after patronizing the creperie as customers since they moved to the region in 2003, purchased Ravenous in 2014. Zuka and Raymond were committed to the original mission of providing simple, fresh food made from scratch, while growing the business.
Zuka, who bought Raymond out last year, has more than three decades of experience in the hospitality industry. As executive chef of the restaurant, he described the crepes he prepares as “a vehicle for a chef’s creativity and interests because of the vast variety of ingredients I can put in them.”
“I am thankful to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Ravenous in October,” said Zuka. “Of course this would not have been possible without the dedicated support of Ravenous patrons and staff throughout two decades. One of our long-time employees, Maggie, has been cutting pommes frites since day one and still anchors our team as the heart and soul of Ravenous. I am grateful to her, and everyone on my staff as well as everyone who has patronized us and considers Ravenous, a Saratoga Springs fixture.”
About his plans for Ravenous in the years ahead, Zuka said, “While I always have my eyes on opportunities for expansion and growth, I look to continue the heritage of wonderful meals and traditional favorites which have made Ravenous an instant favorite among many since it arrived on the local cuisine scene in 1999.”
Ravenous also offers New York state beer and hard cider, as well as a wide variety of wine by the glass or by the bottle. Ravenous crepe fillings include traditional French favorites, as well as other more creative fillings from around the world. Dessert crepes feature fresh fruit, nutella, fromage blanc and homemade whipped cream. Ravenous is committed to sourcing quality ingredients available to prepare daily from scratch.
Ravenous is open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Fridays and brunch and dinner on weekends. For more information, visit www.ravenouscrepes.com.