POTSDAM — St. Lawrence County has a namesake in the form of a new bar and grill where the owner wants to set a relaxed atmosphere with comfort food and games.
Saint Larry’s Bar and Grill opened its doors at 6 Elm St. on Monday and 33-year-old Michael A. Solsberry said his new endeavor is rooted in his love of his native county and his desire to create the kind of place he would want to frequent.
Walk through the front door and in addition to seating, the space is occupied with a shuffle board table, arcade games, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tekken. Within eye shot of the restaurant’s front entrance is the bar which is bookended with framed posters of actor Craig T. Nelson in his role from the television sitcom, Coach.
“I’m just trying to have a fun environment,” Mr. Solsberry said. “We have ‘80s music playing a lot of the time. I’m trying to make the place that I would want to hang out at and the kind of menu that I would want to eat, so it’s kind of simple, comfort food, but everything is made fresh and made by our chef, Andy Ostroski, who has worked in the area for a long time.”
Menu items include appetizers like jalapeno cornbread poppers and poutine, made traditionally with their homemade beef gravy and cheese curds; a variety of pastas, including a crab mac & cheese; burgers, sandwiches and entrees, like their honey glazed fried chicken or meatloaf.
“Its a price point where you can come regularly without anything too fancy but where everything it well done with Andy’s twist on it,” Mr. Solsberry said.
In addition, there is outdoor seating and bar on the Waverly Street side of the building with what Mr. Solsberry called “The Sideyard,” which he named after the types of parties he had at his friend Johnny Mack’s house while growing up in Waddington. It’s a roped-off lawn area where patrons can participate in lawn games like corn hole and Texas horseshoes.
A 2010 graduate of SUNY Potsdam, Mr. Solsberry moved to Washington D.C. with a goal of working for a union. Instead, he got a job as a bus boy and discovered a love for the restaurant business. He climbed his way up the ladder to the director of human resources and finance when he left in June.
He said he came home, to “Saint Larry’s County,” so that he could help keep as much money in the county as possible and promote “local tourism.”
With a staff of about 30 to 35 employees, Mr. Solsberry said he is going to focus on providing as many state and local products as possible, as well as utilize local businesses. He hired Canton’s Tapped In Line Cleaning to install a new glycol draft beer and wine system, and, with the help of bar manager Robbie Carrier, he has 23 New York crafted beers and one New York wine on tap. He also has a nitro coffee system with a New York State brewed coffee on tap.
“I have two different goals here,” he said. “I’m here to serve the community, but, also, I really want to activate the downtown area. What I want the other businesses, like McDuff’s and Maxfield’s, to know is that I’m here to be their neighbor.
“The more places that move into downtown, the more people we can attract into Potsdam and try to keep local tourism, where you don’t have to leave Potsdam in order to have things to do,” he said.
Current hours at St. Larry’s are 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Wednesday; and 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
The kitchen closes at 9 p.m. except for Friday and Saturday, when it closes at 10 p.m. There will be a bar menu consisting of appetizers, available until one hour before the restaurant closes.
In the future, those hours could be changed or extended depending upon business, Mr. Solsberry said.