Photos by Veronica Zabala.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — After two years of planning, building and anticipation, Walt and Whitman has finally opened. The new coffee shop and brewery occupies the former Saratogian building on the corner Lake and Maple Avenues.
Co-founder Will Crager, who moved to Saratoga a few years ago from the Philadelphia area, came up with the idea with his family about two years ago. “We knew we wanted to do a fusion of coffee and beer in some way, and the old Saratogian building really fit perfectly for the vision,” said Crager.
Along with Shawna Jenks, Director of Operations, and a dedicated team, Crager officially opened the coffee shop on Monday, hosted a soft opening for the brewery on Sunday and Monday night, and officially opened the brewery on Thursday.
“We’ve had a consistent stream of people. Everyone seems really excited and happy about the space and the environment and atmosphere of the place,” said Crager about Monday’s opening.
The coffee shop and brewery are split on two different levels. The coffee area is upstairs and has a bright, minimalist theme: hardwood floors, exposed beams and brick, and lots of open seating on wooden stools. Customers can order different coffees and from a small selection of breakfast and lunch items.
In the basement, Elvis memorabilia, Bob Dylan album covers and other décor surround leather couches. This classic American culture inspires not only the theme, but also the name of the establishment: Walt and Whitman.
“We really view him [Walt Whitman] as the original American progressive thinker and a true American in every sense of the term,” explained Crager. “He chronicled the craftsmanship and work of a lot of really, really important American men and women, and we want to inspire that in this place. Things like attention to detail, craftsmanship; that’s really what we’re striving to focus on and shine a light on here. That’s the core of our culture and very central to our identity.”
The food is also heavily rooted in American culture. “It’s really an elevated street food menu, so there’s food you wouldn’t typically see on a brewpub menu. There are some really cool dishes like Detroit style pizza,” said Crager. Crager added that the brewery and food team are given creative liberty when coming up with menu items, including what they are called. Some of the beers listed include names like Shadows in my Room, The Kids Table, and Used Jet Ski.
The new space has had positive reviews from customers, and even former residents of the space have stopped by. “We’ve had a few people come in and try to figure out where their offices were upstairs,” laughed Crager. “We’re just excited to be in the building and feel lucky to be here.”
Crager adds that he hopes that Walt and Whitman can be adaptable to how people in Saratoga would like it grow. “We want everyone to feel really welcome and we want to be approachable to everyone.” For more information, visit their website at www.waltandwhitmanbrewing.com