Smith’s restaurant in Cohoes is sold to busy developer


COHOES – Smith’s, a restaurant since the late 1930s that has for decades been a legendary hangout for the Albany County Democratic machine, is bought by developer Patrick Oh, who adds it to his portfolio of several Remsen Street properties.

The seller is David Hostig, owner of the Normanside country club in Delmar, who took over Smith’s from his late father, Joseph Hostig, who owned the restaurant from 2008 until his death in 2019. Hostig and a town official confirmed the sale pending Monday. Smith’s has been closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Oh’s company, Capital Companies NY, has invested millions in Cohoes properties over the past five years, including several on Remsen Street, including the Smith Plot at 171 Remsen. Hostig said Oh wanted to identify a restaurant operator who would reopen Smith’s, preferably under that name and with a similar concept. It has long been known as a watering hole for locals for its 50-foot mahogany bar, purchased at the original Tammany Hall in New York City, and its dining rooms featuring mid-priced American fare for those seeking. an evening or meal before a show at the nearby Cohoes Music Hall.

Hostig said he expected the deal to be finalized in the coming weeks. A reopening schedule was not clear on Monday. Oh did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I expect a deal to be imminent to sell the building, and the plan is to see Smith’s reopen as Smith’s,” said Stephen Napier, the city’s director of economic and community development. “I am delighted to see him,” he said.

Hostig ran Smith’s for just a few months, from his father’s death in late 2019 until the onset of the pandemic in mid-March 2020. Take-out was not viable, he said, but he didn’t decide to sell until last fall. The building and the company were never officially listed as being in the market.

“I wanted to do it quietly, so that I could look at potential buyers,” Hostig said. “I didn’t want someone who was just going to come in and tear down this wonderful bar and sell it, and turn the building into an office.”

He said Oh’s track record as the owner of new hotel businesses in his redeveloped Remsen Street buildings, including Cake Street Sweets, gives him confidence that Oh intends to further contribute to the growth of the food scene. de Cohoes by bringing Smith’s back. The sale includes the rights to Smith’s name, Hostig said. Most of Oh’s properties have food or retail stores downstairs and apartments upstairs.

The Smith Building opened in 1873, serving as a billiard room, cinema, and tavern. It got its present name when it was purchased in 1937 by Michael T. “Big Mike” Smith, a 6-foot-4, over 300-pound figure who rose from the local political scene in the 1890s to the national attention when, in 1936, he was said to have taken the stage of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in a white suit and Stetson hat while smoking a cigar. He died on December 31, 1949, at the age of 90.

Smith’s, which sank in the late 1970s, was rescued and ruled from 1981 to 2008 by Eunice Antonucci and her daughter, Margaret. After closing it, Joseph Hostig relaunched Smith’s nine months later.

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