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Friday, 17 June 2016 13:29

The Ultimate Place to “Show Face!” Gaffney’s 34th Annual Garden Party on Sunday

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Plain and simple: If I were going to pick one event to show a newcomer what downtown Saratoga Springs entertainment is all about, it would be Gaffney’s Garden Party. A Father’s Day tradition, its 34th renewal will be this Sunday, June 19, beginning at 1 p.m. For one thing, that newcomer would have a chance to meet a good cross-section of our citizenry, who all will be there. That includes a tremendous percentage of the hospitality industry from other places in town, who watch the clock until they can get off-shift, and join their erstwhile customers, and probably the owners of the businesses they work for as well – who are already there, in the Garden. And that’s the thing. No one spends an extra dime counter-programming against Gaffney’s on this day. It would be a futile waste of time and cash. That’s what a tradition is, and the people reinforce it each year on Father’s day. Gaffney’s great people may be too humble and grateful to say it – so I will. Yes, other places are open – but this is Gaffney’s day. Feel free to take issue with me if you like. You’ll know where to find me on Sunday afternoon. “It never gets old,” said General Manager Kim Smith, with her trademark laugh, spiced up with a giggle or two. Kim, who has been at Gaffney’s for 29 years, starting as a Hostess, continued, “You think it would – after all this time and with everything else we have going on around here year-round. But it doesn’t – as soon as we open the Garden, which we do as soon as the weather allows, our guests start talking Garden Party. They get the staff revved up, which gets us all going. Each year, we are motivated to make it the best one ever. Whether (Sunday) will be your first Garden Party, or your 34th, our goal is to make it the best one ever for you.” This year is no exception: The formula for a successful Gaffney’s experience has always been a combination of faithfulness to what traditionally works, while reaching out and incorporating new, up and coming stars into its “family.” The party starts at 1 p.m., with all the drink and food specials you would expect. Then, at 2 p.m. traditional favorite Rich Ortiz will be back. He tees up the day with a mellow vibe – not that people won’t be feeling it and dancing, but Rich – a consummate pro, knows when to bring things to a boil, and when to let it simmer. He will provide the quintessential soundtrack for a Sunday summer afternoon. Then at 5 p.m. – surf’s up with Big Fez and the Surfmatics, and don’t be surprised if all hell breaks loose! Google their pic, and you’ll get the idea. About 6 p.m., people will start thinking of excuses to call in late to work the next day. But chances are, you can surf right over to your boss on the other side of the garden and let him/her know. It’s that kind of day. So many people connected with this event want to share their thoughts, it’s easy to get quotes: “The Garden Party has always been a Gaffney’s “family” event,” says Bartender/Manager Deena Lavigne. “In this case, the family includes customers, staff and everyone’s family.” “Enjoying time as a family. Parents, children and myself. The Garden party at Gaffney's brings back many, many happy memories!” Trish Marsh, a server mid to late 80s and early 90s, said. “This is a must,” said long-time Gaffney’s Bookkeeper Mary Ann Hannon, “You know summer is officially here when Gaffney’s has their Garden Party!” One big happy family. Which sometimes grows, just like a garden, in intriguing and wonderful ways. Case in point: Chef Kevin Myers, whose cuisine is a major reason why Gaffney’s is their “go-to” place, chooses to spotlight entertainment “… for me, it’s the great talent that has played here over the past 34 years.” And former server Jen Poitras, who noted, “My customers always called the Garden Party ‘Fun Family Date Day.’” Well, fast forward some years, and now Jen Poitras is known as Jen Poitras Myers. You do the math. I guess she liked his cooking! And that’s how they roll. Amazingly, as busy as it always is, they always seem to make room for you. We leave it to the man who started the party, 34 years ago, to tie it all together: “It’s always been the kick off party to the summer season,” said Gaffney’s Owner John Baker, “We are gratified that people have regarded it as a tradition from the very beginning. I attribute the success of it because it started with a simple, but important idea: honoring my father, and everyone’s father, on Father’s Day. On Sunday, we'll see people who came as children with their parents, now coming back with kids of their own. For me, that’s the best part – a combination of a generational rite of passage, blended with the annual passage into summertime.” If you are going to visit Gaffney’s once in your life – this Sunday should be the day. Fair warning, though – the experience tends to be habit-forming! For more information about everything, visit GaffneysRestaurant.com
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