When Steve Holmes and Gary Tromblee walked into the showroom of world famous wood working artist Barry Gregson on Route 9, they knew immediately they’d found the home of their new restaurant.
And for Steve, he also knew in that instant what he would be calling their new venture: “Sticks and Stones” an homage to the incredible creations that were on display in the showroom and the towering stone fireplace that takes center stage.
“We are very excited to be here,” Steve told Schroon Laker.
The target date for restaurant’s opening is Thursday May 24th, just before Schroon’s Official start to Summer and the Town's Opening Weekend Memorial Day activities.
The menu will feature pizzas made in a wood fired brick oven as well as casual American Fare. “It’s going to be a reasonable priced, casual place, with a great bar,” said Steve.
“And We want to try and source local produce as much as possible,” Gary said.
For the two friends, (although at one point in our interview Gary laughingly joked that he and Steve were not that close), opening up the restaurant has been three decades in the making.
“I have been in the restaurant business for most of my adult life,” Steve said. “I started out at a pizza parlor in the Albany area and got the taste for the business there.
Since then he has held multiple restaurants jobs, in both the front and the back of the house. Steve met Gary 20 years ago, when Steve was managing a TGIF’s and was Gary’s “boss”.
“You were never my boss,“ quipped Gary, as the two broke into another round of laughter.
In fact the lads bring more than 50 years of industry experience with them to Schroon.
Steve most recently was a partner with Wheatfield’s Restaurants in Saratoga and Clifton Park, a private restaurant consultant and Franchise Director of Operations with Carlson Restaurant Group.
Gary recently opened Joe's Crab Shack in Latham as the General Manager before spending 20 years with TGIF-Carlson Restaurant Group.
The two say they make a great team because they play off each other’s strengths. And both business partners share similar backgrounds and have strong North Country roots. Steve grew up near Friend’s Lake and Gary near the Great Sacandaga Lake.
That’s why they wanted a location in The Adirondacks, a place their consider very special. “We both love the Adirondacks and we wanted to be here,” Steve said.
(Steve and his wife have climbed 23 of the 46 peaks. It appears Gary is getting a late start.)
The pair got serious about their idea of opening their own place in December and began the search for a location.
“We knew immediately when we saw Barry’s place this would be our restaurant. It’s got everything. It’s a great space with great ambiance and a great location”.
Before it was a furniture show room, the space was a restaurant twice before, recalled Rosemarie Ritson, from the Schroon lake Chamber of Commerce.
“At one time it was a French place called Guys and another time it was called the Adventure Inn,” she said.
But there is no kitchen in the current building, a prospect that is both challenging and daunting as the two try and get the place ready to open before Memorial Day Weekend.
“We have seven weeks to get everything into place,” said Gary. Their contractor will use both new and reconditioned kitchen equipment.
Right now they are in the process of getting a wood fired brick oven from the famous Italian manufacturer, the Marra Forni company.
“We want the oven to be the focal point behind the bar,” said Gary.
The owners hope to have an outside patio area to the left side of the entrance ready for the summer. Inside there will be seating for about 100 guests, between 17 tables and the bar area.
Steve and Gary want the restaurant to be a year ‘round business. “We will be open every day until Christmas, when we plan to reassess our hours.
”We want to be open year around for the locals. We want to be there for the community so if they want to go out on a Wednesday night, we will be here for them,” Steve said.
Steve said the process of purchasing the building was easy. “The moment we met Barry he ‘got‘ what we were about. We have all become good friends.”
The partners have made a couple of trips to Barry’s workshop to see first hand where a lot of the furniture that will be in their restaurant, is created.
Three of Barry's tables, a rocker, a hang your hat chair, and rocking settee will be in the restaurant, according to Kylen Kline, who is helping Steve and Gary with marketing.
“Additionally we want to keep the theme of a gallery so all of our pieces will be available to purchase, as well the artwork displayed will be from local artists and photographers".
The partners hope to feature acoustic music in the restaurant and they already have booked their first act for opening night.
“Part of the deal with Barry is that he gets to play on opening night,” said Steve. We will be following the adventures of Steve and Gary in the coming weeks. What type of brick oven fired pizza are you looking forward to eating? Tell us in comments.
Where and When: Sticks and Stones Bar and Grill. 769 Route 9, Schroon Lake, 12870. (518) 269-1536