Thursday, 25 April 2013 08:11

Village Pizzeria to Open Branch at Former Good Times

By Patricia Older | Business

GALWAY — Since first opening in 1988, Village Pizzeria has steadily grown along with its loyal customer base—first a pizzeria focusing on pizzas, the Italian restaurant has evolved over the years to become a destination place—the go-to for authentic Italian dining with a robust menu, good company and fine wines. 

Now the owners, Sandy Foster, along with husband Joe Guerrera and daughter Jessica Mancinone, are spreading out to open a second location in the former Good Times Restaurant on Ballston Lake. 

“We are bringing the Village Pizzeria to Ballston Lake,” said Sandy, who had no experience in the restaurant business prior to opening the pizzeria in Galway. “We did it because more and more of our customers are asking us for another location.”

She said the new location is an exciting opportunity for them and they were going to be working between both spots to ensure the same quality of service, food and ambiance are maintained.

The Good Times Restaurant was run by Desiree Kalleigh for the last 25 years. Prior to that, Desiree’s parents operated it. It closed its doors last week. 

Sandy said her daughter Jessica has been pivotal in helping with the new design of the restaurant “Villago.”

“We picked that name because it means the villa on the lake,” said Sandy, adding that with the purchase, they will have lake front property with a public boat launch. “We plan to add more docks and embrace the people who live along the lake—they can dock and dine.”

Sandy and Joe, known for their hands-on style of managing the Village Pizzeria, are often the reason customers drive for miles to eat at their Galway location. She said that they will be bringing an abbreviated version of their menu to the new location with pizza and farm to fork salads and appetizers. 

“We definitely have to have seafood,” said Sandy. “We are also bringing our full gluten-free menu.”

Village Pizzeria started out 25 years ago when Sandy and Joe, who are lovers of the Saratoga Race Course, decided to move to the area for a quieter, simpler life. 

“Our daughter was young and we wanted to be in the country,” said Sandy. 

They opened the small restaurant after being prompted by family and friends to market their homemade pizzas. 

“We used to cook pizzas at home and all the time people used to say you need to open a pizzeria,” said Sandy. 

And that is what they did. 

Sandy said that at first, opening Village Pizzeria was a lot of labor intensive work and required a lot of gathering of all the materials necessary. 

“The “Want Ad Digest” was my bible,” said Sandy, adding that how the restaurant got its name is also a story of serendipity. 

Noting that they wanted to be accepted and fit into the small, tightknit community, they knew the name of their restaurant had to reflect the village and its quaintness. 

She goes on to explain that they met with a man who had advertised in the Digest and he had everything they would need to get started—the pizza ovens, the pizza tables, the kitchen necessities. 

“Then I see in the corner, this large, beautiful, carved wooden sign,” said Sandy. “And it said ‘Village Pizzeria.’ I told him to just put that in the truck too.” 

After about five years in business, the couple started to up the menu, adding dinners and specialty salads. 

“Five or six years after the beginning of the restaurant, I put the first pot of pasta on the stove,” said Sandy, who, along with Joe, did a lot of the cooking in the early years. 

She added that their menu has evolved over the years due to “customer requests,” and that many of their original employees are still with them.

“We have a great staff,” said Sandy, noting that the new location will create about 25—30 new jobs. “We, alone, can’t do this by ourselves. I have always felt that if you take care of people, they will take care of you.”

Sandy said they hoped to close by next week on the Good Times property and to be up and running by the end of June. Once Villago opens, she continued, it will run on the same schedule as Village Pizzeria—open seven days a week from May through September, and then closed on Tuesdays throughout the remainder of the year. 

She said the large banquet hall on the top floor will allow them to expand their catering business and special events during the winter months when their patio area in Galway closes down for the season. 

“Our business is really big because of catering,” said Sandy, adding that the Galway banquet room has room for only 30 when the patio closes for the season. “At Villago we can seat 80 to 100—that will open us up to a whole new avenue of business.”

While they will have two business partners in the purchase—Kurt Zarnofsky of KZ Construction and James Towne, a Saratoga attorney—Sandy said she, Joe and Jessica would be the ones running the restaurant. 

“I am the restaurant,” said Sandy. 

And while Village Pizzeria had remained a beer and wine only establishment, Sandy said Villago will feature a fully stocked bar. She added that they never wanted to venture into the full bar at the Pizzeria because of the location, but she proudly added that Village Pizzeria was one out 833 establishments worldwide that received the Best Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. 

“We received that for our selection and the pairing of our menu with our wine list,” said Sandy, who said Village Pizzeria has over 400 wines to choose from. 

Adding that they are really excited about the new venture, Sandy said customers that now drive from points south to Galway can now enjoy the same service, quality of food and unique ambiance at the lakeside Villago. 

“This will be good for everyone,” said Sandy, adding that the employees will enjoy the change of venue as well. “We are really excited about our new restaurant—we know people are going to love it.”

For more information about Village Pizzeria or Villago, call (518) 882-9431.

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