GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – For the last three years, something has been missing from downtown Glens Falls. If you were to be asked where to grab lunch in the time since the COVID-19 pandemic, your list of answers would have been one too short.
As of this week: No more. At a small diner space on South Street, the hot dogs are sizzling, the sauce is stirring, and the customers are coming in for two with the works and a large fry. New Way Lunch is back.
“We’ve been steady. Business hasn’t been crazy or anything, but we’ve been doing a soft opening, not a grand opening,” said Allie Gazetos-Mineo, part of the family behind the restaurant that has spent 103 years in the Glens Falls area. “We’re really excited to be back.”
Allie was at the downtown location for a couple of days this week to help get things back into gear, after it officially reopened on Wednesday. While New Way Lunch’s other two locations – in Queensbury and Warrensburg – were able to stay open, the downtown one shuttered due to a lack of returning staff. Other workers had to be moved to the Queensbury location, which lost its own share of workers and had to be prioritized due to the higher traffic it sees on Route 9.
In its first week back, the Glens Falls location has received around a dozen job applications. On Thursday, a solid half-dozen employees buzzed about, grilling, taking orders, and keeping the small diner operating. One of those employees was Allie’s brother, Nick Gazetos, happily grilling and dressing hot dogs at lightning speed. For Nick, reopening the downtown spot was a homecoming.
“I’ve worked at all of our stores, but this has been the main one when it’s open,” he said, swiftly applying mustard and signature hot dog sauce to a pair of dogs to go. “It feels really good to be back open, and back on the street that we’ve been on for 100 years.”
The reopening hasn’t been entirely based on staffing – it’s also about giving the small building a facelift. On the outside, it has a new coat of paint, as well as outdoor alleyway seating next to the large corner building that connects South Street to Glen Street. There’s new storage space out back, to facilitate the supplies for more traffic.
Inside, framed photos hang on the wall showing the family business’ original location, located further down South Street. Those frames now hang on repainted walls, adding a slightly bluish tint. The booths have new seat cushions, as well as refinished wood. The bathrooms have been renovated to mirror the bright-red ones that veteran customers may remember from the original location.
Like with so many projects, private and city-wide alike, the ultimate enemy is the dreaded supply chain issue. Those problems delayed the renovations past the family’s original target of a September or October reopening. Their food supplies aren’t unimpacted, either. In time, the family hopes to redo the Queensbury and Warrensburg New Way locations to mirror the South Street store’s facelift.
New Way Lunch may be returning to a home long-held, but it’s reopening on a South Street made new by recent activity. Across the street, new consignment shop Fashion Follies is offering nostalgia by the outfit. Down the street, Glens Falls Bagels continues its first few months of business, across from the future home of the Glens Falls Farmer’s Market. It may be the same home, but it’s changing – and the Gazetos family is thrilled to see it.
“South Street has completely changed in our lifetimes, to be sure,” said Allie. “We’re excited to be part of it, and excited to be back. It’s kind of like the end of the pandemic for our family.”
New Way Lunch has been expanding beyond the counter. The family’s famous hot dog sauce can be found jarred in supermarkets, and more recently for order online, alongside a recently-updated collection of merchandise. New Way Lunch is open in Glens Falls from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with hours to expand as staffing solidifies.