Power’s Irish Pub opens

Monday, November 07th, 2011

Residents of Halfmoon and Clifton Park welcomed a new eating establishment last week, filling Power’s Irish Pub to capacity on its opening night.

The new family friendly pub at 130 Meyer Road, has rejuvenated what was the Old Dater Inn. The pub is owned and operated by father and son team Randy and Bryah Gifford. The family runs Giffy’s-Bar-B-Q on Route 9.

The Giffords joined with area businessman Chuck Hoffman to restore the 1787 coach tavern just off Route 9 and Farm to Market Road. Hoffman is the building’s owner.

Last Friday’s opening packed the pub’s multiple dining room and its bar with area residents who have been asking the Giffords for the opening date.

The business takes its name from Randy Gifford’s late father-in-law Paul Patterson Power. A painting of him with arms thrown wide open was commissioned for the pub from artist Jen McAlonie. It greets diners as they enter the building’s dining area.

With its historic yellow exterior paint illuminated by the the warm glow of lights from its many dining rooms the pub keeps the Irish tradition alive, offering travelers a spot for comfort and good cheer.

“We’re a family pub,” Randy Gifford said as he greeted familiar faces at the door. “We’re not competing with area bars.”

The business seats 130 diners plus the patrons in the bar area. To give the two-and-a-half story building a true family feel Gifford turned the interior design over to wife Peggy while he went about naming all the dining rooms after his grandchildren and his dog.

“We’ve got Tessa’s Teacup Room, Taylor’s Ballroom, and Liam’s Lounge,” Gifford said. “Those are the grandkids. And there’s Gretta’s Garden. That’s named after my dog.” The biggest of the upstairs dining rooms is illuminated by large glass chandeliers shaped like sailing ships. “We did it because the Irish came over here in ships like those,” Gifford said.

The pub is open Tuesday through Sunday, mimicking its sister restaurant down the street, Giffy’s.

It offers Irish fare made from scratch like bangers and mash, corned beef Reuben sandwiches, fish and chips, homemade soups, shepard’s pie and Guinness battered onion rings. There is also a standard pub food like burgers and fries and a kids’ menu.

“We didn’t want to have the same things coming out of the kitchen here that we offer at the restaurant, so we’ve kept it mainly focused on Irish food,” Gifford said.

The man who started Giffy’s Bar-B-Q in his garage says he still loves a challenge and the pub was a big one. He has been in the hospitality industry for 43 years, starting as a 16-year-old at a Utica fast food restaurant. He continued learning his craft working at upscale restaurants, a private country club, and even doing a turn as a waiter at Jack’s Oyster House during the winters when his small barbeque business was still seasonal.

To get the full Irish flavor into the kitchen Gifford brought in Janet Walsh-Sterling to head up the pub’s kitchen staff. On opening night she and her staff produced hearty meals one after another putting them up on the counter as fast as the wait staff came through the kitchen’s swinging door.

“I always wanted a pub but one that had rules and regulations,” Gifford said. “We’re a family place and that includes the bar. I tell them all it’s my liquor license, my reputation, our investment, so its my rules.” Describing what it took to bring the building up to code, the genial host shook his head in mock disbelief. “This was a great team with us and Chuck (Hoffman),” he said. “He wanted the building maintained and we wanted a pub. He knew our reputation and we knew his. But I have to say, when I got inside that first time I just said, ‘My God, what have I done.’”

Now that the business is open Gifford can finally smile. He owns something he has wanted all his life, put 27 more people to work in a poor economy and brought something to the southern Saratoga community they can be proud of.

“My father-in-law was really like a second father to me so this is for him and my wife Peggy,” Gifford said. “If he were here, he’d be in that chair by the door greeting every person who walked in and telling stories.”

Source: Glenn Griffith, cnweekly.com

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