A martini is a terrible thing to waste.

The closing of Miss Albany Diner.

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Feb 3, 2012 42 Comments

Photo courtesy of The Times Union.

Ham and Eggs (sunny side up), hash browns and dry wheat toast with a large iced coffee… For almost fifteen years this has been my order at my favorite breakfast spot, Miss Albany Diner. I won’t waste time talking about how awesome the food was or how much I enjoyed being there because you already know. For many Albany residents- and some outside of Albany, M.A.D. has been the go to place for all things breakfast.

Jane Brown- the current owner, matriarch and familiar face of Miss Albany Diner decided to enter into a well deserved retirement years ago, but was unable to find a buyer for the building. After careful consideration and discussions with my partners Jimmy and Demetra Vann, we decided to make an offer which Mrs. Brown (recent widow of Cliff Brown who was also an owner) accepted. It is kind of a bittersweet win-win situation, since it is the building that is being sold, not the business. So while we are happy to acquire our neighbor to the left and allow her to move forward with her plans, the diner itself is no more.

Mrs. Brown and her son Bill, are legally keeping the name “Miss Albany Diner” as well as their recipes, and they maintain the right to open another diner in another location, as well as having the right to sell the name Miss Albany Diner and it’s recipes to an interested party at another location. As new owners of the property, we legally can not continue to operate the space as Miss Albany Diner or use their menu items. I’m only noting that because it is important to us that it is clear that we are not “closing down Miss Albany Diner”. They sold us the property, and we are not legally allowed to re-open Miss Albany Diner in that space.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Jane and Bill Brown, for giving us the opportunity to care for a building that is considered by many to be one of the most iconic buildings in the capital region. I know the Browns hold the diner very dear to their hearts, and I promise we will respect the history, the memory, and the integrity of Miss Albany Diner.



Comments

  • Dana
    Feb 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

    When I lived in Key West many years ago we found that the locals were very resistant to any sort of change. The running joke was that if you changed a light bulb they’d tell you the previous one was brighter.

    Albany is not that different from Key West (if you don’t count the snow and the fact that vodka outsells rum in January). Regardless of what goes into the space, people are going to have their opinions and some will undoubtedly be negative (despite your very honest post here). I hope that it is not discouraging and that you’ll take those opinions with a grain of salt.

    I think that what you have done for North Albany is truly amazing. You’ve breathed new life into the area and have made it a popular place for new businesses to thrive- even in a downturned economy. And let’s not forget, a place for people to have tons of fun! Whatever you decide to do with the M.A.D. space is going to be fantastic. I wish you all the best of luck.

  • Hopeful
    Feb 3, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Bittersweet. I remember a few years back you wrote about saving the diner. Glad they were able to sell to someone so interested in respecting what they’d spent years building.

  • jmac
    Feb 3, 2012 at 7:03 am

    When does it actually close? Is there still a chance to get some MAD french toast?

  • RT
    Feb 3, 2012 at 7:43 am

    This sounds like another great opportunity…MIDAS TOUCH!!! I think this is a perfect place for a unique donut shop or hot dog joint. whatever goes there i am sure it will be AWESOME. Congrats on the new venture whatever it maybe.

  • julie
    Feb 3, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Oh, I am sorry to hear that MAD is closing, but completely understand her desire to rest and hope/expect that you will do something interesting with the space. Perhaps they will sell you some of those secret recipes in the future. All the best!

  • Michelle Fusco
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Matt,
    My parents owned the diner from 74-82 under the name Fusco’s Diner. I grew up there, dragging a stool behind the counter to wait on people at the age of 4. To this day I am a diner waitress, and my fondest life memories are from those years. I look forward to seeing the business you will build in this iconic location, and implore you, just in case, not to turn it into anything other than a rockin’ diner.
    Best wishes!!

  • Michelle Fusco
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:11 am

    and P.S. Matt….we have some great old pictures if you would like any!!

  • Suzanne Fusco
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Matt, I am so happy to hear that you are saving such an iconic piece of Albany history!

    On a personal note, my family would like to thank you for keeping our fond memories alive by keeping the diner open. My father and uncles actually owned it about 30+ years ago for about 8 years…it was called Fusco’s Diner back then. They kept it open 24/7 and did a great business! I was very young (sold it when I was 5) so my memories are vague, but my family loves to reminisce about old times! It would be a shame to see such a vital part of Albany’s history torn down.

    I wish you the best of luck on this endeavor! You have done so much to bring business back to that lovely but forgotten section of Albany and the city owes you a debt of gratitude for that! We all know everything you touch turns to gold so I can only figure the diner will be wildly successful!!!

    Can’t wait to come visit!!! Thanks again! <3

  • The Chase Davis
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:48 am

    As a frequenter of M.A.D I hope the last sentence is held true and not just a way to calm the passionate.

    I certainly understand the position you are in, and am happy that if the space was sold to anybody, it was you.

  • Jaclyn
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Best of luck with this Matt! And while I am absolutely heartbroken to lose the name and menu (the Tijuana eggs might be my favorite breakfast ever), Jane deserves a wonderful retirement……if you try to keep some menu items, I’ll donate to the cause! :)

  • Tony
    Feb 3, 2012 at 8:57 am

    No offense but I found that diner to be dirty. I went one time and that was enough. I’m also aware the sellers had an offer of 280k back in 05 that they refused. I bet the new owners didn’t pay that much. It always amazes me to see how stubborn sellers are.

  • Matt
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

    @jmac Their last day is Friday, February 10th.

  • Mr. Dave
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:14 am

    For some reason I thought that it was closing a while ago… But anyway, I think the booth in the diner used in the scene from Ironweed is a sort of local landmark. If you redo the interior, maybe a plaque or something? Donate it to a museum? I don’t know… I am a big William Kennedy fan, and Ironweed is one of the only true “Albany” movies.

    I wrote a little about it and took some pictures here-

    http://www.ridiculousfoodsociety.net/2009/11/miss-albany-diner-i-went-to-say-goodbye.html

  • EJT
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Uh? No friday puppy?

  • Jen
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Sad to see MAD go; they had the most unique breakfast concoctions. What are you plans for the place, Matt?!?!?

  • DL
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I think the last sentence in your post says it all – glad to hear you share that sentiment.

  • Matt
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

    @EJT Sorry I don’t have my computer back yet.

  • elf
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

    good luck Matt- I’m sure you’ll turn MAD into an awesome joint- whatever it may be…..thank you for caring about Albany and trying to turn it into something we can be proud of!!!

  • Jeff
    Feb 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

    is the fuse box moving in?

  • Shawn
    Feb 3, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Chicken and Waffles joint!

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  • Rue
    Feb 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    As much as I’ll miss it, I’m glad to see that MAD’s new owners are people I already have great respect for; I’m a huge fan of Wolff’s. I’m sure you guys will do a great job with whatever comes, and I can’t wait to check it out.

  • tallguyy
    Feb 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Congrats and thank you 3 for taking over the diner. I hope you end up having it open late night while the bars are open to get different foods that aren’t avaliable at the establishments.
    Any chance after this venture you 3 will take a warehouse and turn it into a Artsy drinking establishment. Pretty much a revolving art gallery of local artists with a cool vibe. =)

  • BARV
    Feb 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Congrats Matt ~ you are just one busy man!! I always thought a seafood bar would be awesome. So many ideas being thrown out ~ it’s amazing what people want. I can not see demolishing the building, maybe it should be donated to the museum? I would assume that Wolfs would take over the lot or there has to be a lot of “real” thinking going on in what to do with the diner. In any event, all the best!!!!

  • MMMmmm beer
    Feb 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    http://www.chickenandwafflesandwich.com

    This place is ragin’ in San Fran, a perfect concept for a small venue in urban bar areas. I know they are talking with people in NYC about coming East…maybe u shld check it out and stay ahead of the curve…..great reviews on Yelp

  • DB
    Feb 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    you should rent it out during June as a Hostel for the Euro2012 games.

  • Brian
    Feb 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Good Luck Man. I’m sure you’ll have some decent ideas for an already cool spot.

  • Robert DuPont
    Feb 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Matt,

    Keep it a diner !!!!! Make it a 24 hour diner. With all the bars popping up all over the neighborhood, don’t you need a place to get a plate of eggs and coffee ??. That neighborhood has always been industrial and working class. The diner is part of the character of the area; it is just as iconic as the RCA Dog. Clean it up, and get some folks who will bring new enthusiasm to the old place. All I ask is that they make a better cup of coffee…

  • Thomas
    Feb 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    It’s a shame, I finally decided to try this Albany landmark today and was amazed by the quality and quantity of food they served. We don’t need to loose this diner. There are far too many crappy chains in Albany and this is an Icon! I can only pray that the new owners decide to consider keeping this a diner and try to attempt to serve the food I had today. I am going to do my best to get back in there before closing next Friday. I would have been a faithful customer had I known about it sooner.

  • MMMmmm Beer
    Feb 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Did u at least acquire the recipe for “homo milk”?

  • Heather (not that one)
    Feb 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I am embarrassed to say that I have lived here all my life (with a 12 year break) and have never eaten here. I have always wanted to and it was on my “bucket list”. I have 8 days to go……I am an egg person…but if it’s my last shot…veterans.. What should I order?

  • Meat
    Feb 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Heather. The corned beef hash is a must.

  • Tony-Freeport,L.I.
    Feb 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    My son, (an Albany resident), introduced me to this unique diner several years ago.
    On my visits to Albany, having a great breakfast at the diner with my son & his wife
    was always one of the highlights of the visit. I will regret not being able to share a great breakfast there with my new grandson, Jonah….Sorry, Jonah!!!

  • Claire
    Feb 4, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Sorry to say goodbye to MAD, but really looking forward to what you may come up with for the space! Are you at “restaurant dynasty” yet?

  • mike engle
    Feb 5, 2012 at 10:42 am

    To the Fuscos: Michelle and Suzanne. Could you contact me at my website, nydiners.com and share some of your stories about your time owning Lil’s Diner(The first name of the diner.)

  • Sam
    Feb 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I have tried many times to recreate Rocky Mountain High at home. Usually it’s pretty good and I think, “wow look at me!” But then I go back to MAD and have the original and there’s no comparison – it’s so much better. I hope you keep the place alive for breakfast – tough call with your German breakfasts next door! I’ll chip in for the RMH recipe.

  • MD
    Feb 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    The property has great potential.

    Good luck, Matt, Jimmy & Demetra!

  • Reggio
    Feb 6, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    The NEW Miss Albany Diner: CONGRATULATIONS !

  • JennC
    Feb 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

    There’s no new Miss Albany Diner, whatever the name, whatever the annex, it’s all fishy. Mrs. Brown wants to retire, yet she wants the rights to capitalize on the name and menu, or worse still, perhaps open another restaurant. Sure she’s smart/strategic, but it sounds like someone else is piloting the ship (ahem..Bill, et al.).

    While I think there’s no better serial restaurateur like Matt in the area; this whole thing is as exciting as it is disappointing. I’m not sure what’s more of a bummer 1) the end of an era or 2) the unwillingness to leave a legacy in the capable hands of someone who values it.

    As for taking the name and menu (Browns), good luck; I see the Joey Tribbiani on diners in your future. #FailedSpinOff

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  • Babs
    Feb 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    @jennc….Could you possibly be any more rude? Who would value a legacy more than the ones that created it? Jane and Bill created those recipes. Would you give birth to a baby and leave it in the house you just sold? Ever think that Matt wants to make his own legacy?

  • Joe
    Feb 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

    What a shame to see the old lady go. but time marches on and real estate is king. I used to stop in to Fusco’s in the early seventies when I drove a taxi in Albany. At that time there were still a lot of diners in the area. Back then i was also a painting contractor and i did all the interior and exterior work at Quintessence on New Scotland Avenue. Now I live in NYC and both remaining diners in my neighborhood have been removed and sold to someone in the midwest who collects them. I worked as Tom Waits stand in on Ironweed and remember how they spruced up Fusco’s to make it look more authentic for the period of the film. It was for Lena’s(of Cafe Lena) scene in the movie. Unlike an earlier comment. I thought the film, although it had problems, was really great.

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