GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – South Street is about to have a big Friday. On one side of the once-bustling street, a Downtown Revitalization Initiative project years in the works will finally break ground. Just across the street, a new cocktail lounge with a yellow-furred animal on its sign will be ready to welcome onlookers in for a drink once the shovels have hit dirt.
The Golden Monkey Lounge is set to hold a soft opening at 5 p.m. this Friday at 58 South St. – most recently home to Glens Falls Bagels, and previously to an Irish pub that closed its doors about a decade ago. Co-owners Larissa Ovitt and Gregg Singer think of the venue as “elevated,” but not upscale to the point of being inaccessible. Fancy cocktails, sure, but something for everyone.
“It’s new South Street, not old South Street,” said Ovitt, a Lake George native. “That was part of the purpose for Gregg and I in creating this bar in this space. We want to control part of the direction of South Street.”
After purchasing the building late last year, Ovitt and Signer have been inside since early February, bringing their golden vision to life. The result: Warm lighting and paint on the walls, a dividing shelf wall of decor, and a bar stocked with everything the bartender needs for the Golden Monkey menu. Drinks are inspired by the prohibition era, and aimed at getting visitors to try things they haven’t had before, or that they didn’t know they enjoyed. The emphasis is on rum, scotch, and gin, with Caribbean and Indian influences mixed in.
The duo has put about $100K into preparing the Golden Monkey for opening night. When they arrived, the kitchen was empty except for a sink. Since then, new kitchen and bar equipment, speakers, lighting, and fire suppression equipment have all been brought in.
Ovitt and Singer have never owned a bar before, but both have histories in the service industry, as well as entrepreneurship. For Ovitt, South Street feels like home – her mother was the creator of Flight Wine War just up the street.
The partners have also maintained short-term rentals in Lake George and Saratoga since 2019. Upstairs from the lounge, four apartment spaces will be added to that portfolio. Singer, a Manhattan native who relocated to the Capital region five years ago, owns other rental properties in Gloversville, Amsterdam, and Ballston Spa. Among all those communities, he agrees with what the new generation of Glens Falls business owners all say – Glens Falls is growing, and for good.
“The Capital Region in general is one of the few places that’s had a real growth factor in the country over the last few years,” he said. “There’s only a few of them. People want to come here.”
Street of future dreams
At 3 p.m. on Friday, the city of Glens Falls will break ground on a six-year-long effort to create a new farmers market and event pavilion at 51-63 South St., directly across the street from the Golden Monkey. The project was born from a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant awarded to the city in 2017, then delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and several different revisions, as well as fluctuations in supply prices in the subsequent three years. The market will replace a former Off-Track Betting building.
Ovitt and Singer chose Friday as soft opening night before they knew that such a big event would be happening that very same day. It’s a first, too, for the city’s plan to close down parts of South and Elm streets to all vehicle traffic during market events. The Golden Monkey boasts a street-facing garage door with an elevated seating area on the inside. During those events, the owners hope to open that door up and let live music and lounge atmosphere bleed out onto South Street.
As of this week, the lounge is ready to serve, but more is still to come. A currently vacant back patio will soon be furnished, decorated with lights, and ready for seasonal outdoor seating. The lounge as a whole will rent itself out for private events, and the owners want to create fun drink menus for holidays. It may be too short notice to expect one on Halloween, but the Golden Monkey isn’t ruling anything out.
“I think the most important thing that people here should know is that this is their place to come and hang out. Even if they aren’t big drinkers, they still have a place here,” Ovitt said. “We want people to just come in and say hi, try things out, and see part of the change happening in their own community.”
The Golden Monkey will be open every Friday-Tuesday, from 5 p.m. to midnight. In honor of its namesake, it will hold a monthly night where proceeds are donated to efforts to protect the golden monkey, an endangered species native to parts of central Africa.