Hudson River Coffee House

Hudson River Coffee Company

Anton Pasquill at the soon to be Hudson River Coffee Company

By Anthony Geras

The Hudson River Telephone Company building at Quail and Hudson in Albany kind of makes you do a double take. It's an interesting building, but it looks a little out of place in the neighborhood. It's big, it's antiquated, and until recently, it was vacant.

The basement is filled with old switchboards, but in mid October the first floor will be the home of the Hudson River Coffee House -- a coffee shop/art space/game room created by recent UAlbany alum Anton Pasquill.

After graduating in June, he's done everything from construction, to roasting coffee, to hunting down vintage 80s arcade games in his effort to get the new shop ready.

Anton says he's a pessimist, but you won't pick up on that by talking with him. With an economics degree in hand, he took a sobering look at the job market and the poor economy -- and then plunged headlong into opening his own business.


"I've been telling people it's insanity. Really, I wish I had a better answer."

He says he managed a few Subways while he was in college, but that's the extent of his experience. But he has that econ degree, which he says has shaped the way he looks at things.

"The biggest thing economics study taught me about owning a business was opportunity cost. If there is one good reason to take economics, that's it. What am I losing out on if I do this? What is the opportunity cost if I spend a thousand dollars on the Ninja Turtle machine? What am I missing if I do that?"

As it happens, Anton took that risk and drove to the Hudson Valley recently to pick up a 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arcade game for the shop.

Ninja Turtle game.jpg

As a student, Anton says he was a fan of the old Muddy Cup on Madion -- but he says he sees more opportunity in the neighborhood. He's planning to do coffee, sandwiches, panini and desserts.

Anton says he's a little nervous about the recent crime issues in the student neighborhood, but he's hoping his new business might actually help a little. "We're going to be open late. Eleven on the weekdays and possibly as late as three on the weekends. We're illuminating the corner, so hopefully people will feel safer and if they need a ride they can duck in and call a friend."

Local, local, local

Anton's planning to go local wherever possible. "When I went to get approval from the city, I built other local businesses into my plan. We're in an economic downturn and there's no real reason I need to get my produce from BJ's to save a few cents here and there."

The coffee will come from Capital City Roasters in the Hudson Valley. "It's really a micro roast. They let me go in and roast beans with them and make my own house blend. They're all organic and fair trade." The pastries will come from The Perfect Blend in Delmar and he plans to use local ingredients whenever he can.

The building

Hudson River Coffee Co.jpg

Anton says the 1,700 square foot space will be one of the largest coffee shops in the Capital Region. "It's such an awesome building. I need to find out more about it. I know it was a switchboard operation, but it may have been a central office."

By the time the renovations are through, Hudson River Coffee Company should be able to seat about 35 and have room for a stage and an art space.

"There's such a great music scene in this area, I wanted a place for local bands to play. And there are so many artists here and not enough places for them to exhibit. The music and art add to the sense of community."

Find It

Hudson River
Quail St and Hudson Ave
Albany, NY 12203


The area always needs new venues and fresh blood!


Thanks for the scoop!

That's awesome. I used to bike by that construction and was curious. Nice to hear something good is making a go at it.

That is a really cool building, and a great location for coffee house / art space imho. I can't wait to see this place open, looks like the interior still has some renovations to get through but I hope it opens soon.

This is looking good for the Albany area, with the last arcade in Crossgates falling to dust because the owners were terrible. Hopefully this spot will cater to the arcade players in the area, especially its growing fighting game scene.

Please please please tell me there will be pinball.

I have to echo the excitement over having some arcade games. I think that's more of a reason I might stop in than coffee.

I love that building! So excited to see it open again! And to have local coffee business that is only a 5 minute walk from my house vs the 15 it takes to get to either the Daily Grind or the Muddy Cup.

Finally! Somewhere in the area to play some arcade games!
I hope this business does well.

This building hasn't had anything to do with switchboards or telephones for about a million years. It was a Mildred Elly school for a long time (including dorms, I believe) then it was Max Trax Studios and Overit Multimedia for quite a while before it was bought by people who forgot to do anything with it for a few years.

It is a great location for a coffeeshop... such a great location, there's another indpendent coffee shop going in across the street. It's kind of unfortunate that two businesses who want to start up in the city are going to be in such direct competition.

The Hudson River Telephone Company began operations in 1883 at 468 Broadway, taking over the operations of previous telephone companies. It owned telephone, telegraph and messenger services that covered a very broad area of the state. James Hilton Manning, Mayor of Albany and son of Treasury Secretary Daniel Manning, was once its president (and president of Weed-Parsons Printing, and National Savings Bank). Later its headquarters was at 78 Chapel (corner of Maiden Lane).
Most likely this was a local switching office.

Paula Lemire had a nice photo of the building a while back:

I would be so excited to patronize this place!

"If you build it, [we] will come..."

Keep the coffee, but about a CSA? No, not that other kind, I mean a Community Supported Arcade.

I'd love a place to go out and place some Street Fighter 4. Or if you have a cyber cafe, I'd rent out computers to run 5-man dungeons with my local WoW guild. Maybe even 10/25 man raids.

@ El Gucks: Def would like to get some SSF4 going on!

We know that this building hasn't had active switchboards in it for many, many years. The comment was that in the basement there were still piles of old switchboard machinery when the current owner purchased it. Thanks for the bits of history offered by some. There's quite a bit on the net about the corporate history but next to nothing about this building or the people who used it. We'd love to hear stories from folks who once worked there or went there, whether as a Mildred Elly student, record producer, or phone customer. Also, as Anton will himself note for the record, he doesn't have a degree yet. Maybe, someday after he gets a real, hands-on education he'll finish his degree. Finally, yes the current owner has left it vacant for a while, but it wasn't dormant. The owner invested a ton of money to save the building, including a new roof, windows, wiring, plumbing. It's basically a modern building now. Great to see a beautiful old building saved and we are proud to be part of its resurrection. J. Pasquill.

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